Tom Bell’s newly posted song lyrics remind me of another pathetic fact about Oregon: you’re not allowed to pump your own gas there. The state requires gas stations to be full-service, like it or not. Imagine this Texas boy reduced to having someone pump his gas for him! I’ll cringe every time I fill up.
The purpose of the ban on self-service is to protect the outdated jobs of gas station attendants, but the legislature goes to hilarious lengths to justify it on public safety grounds. Among the reasons for enactment listed in the law:
(2) Appropriate safety standards often are unenforceable at retail self-service stations in other states because cashiers are often unable to maintain a clear view of and give undivided attention to the dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids by customers;
(3) Higher liability insurance rates charged to retail self-service stations reflect the dangers posed to customers when they leave their vehicles to dispense Class 1 flammable liquids, such as the increased risk of crime and the increased risk of personal injury resulting from slipping on slick surfaces;
(4) The dangers of crime and slick surfaces described in subsection (3) of this section are enhanced because Oregon’s weather is uniquely adverse, causing wet pavement and reduced visibility;
(7) Exposure to toxic fumes represents a health hazard to customers dispensing Class 1 flammable liquids;
(9) The exposure to Class 1 flammable liquids through dispensing should, in general, be limited to as few individuals as possible, such as gasoline station owners and their employees or other trained and certified dispensers;
(10) The typical practice of charging significantly higher prices for full-service fuel dispensing in states where self-service is permitted at retail… Discriminates against customers with lower incomes, who are under greater economic pressure to subject themselves to the inconvenience and hazards of self-service;
(17) Small children left unattended when customers leave to make payment at retail self-service stations creates a dangerous situation.
Yikes, it’s a wonder I’ve survived to 26 engaging in such dangerous activity all these years.
Number 7 is especially worth noting. If operating a gas pump is truly that dangerous, why is the state requiring station attendants to assume the risk on behalf of drivers? If the Oregon legislature is going to ban smoking in bars and restaurants to protect workers, it should ban full-service gas stations too. Or better yet, it should free both kinds of businesses to set their own policies and let employees and customers decide if it’s worth dealing with them. Yeah, that’ll be the day…