On a recent trip through which took me through a number of States I eventually ended up in Oregon. When ever I am on the road I try to find a close Costco because their gas is so much less than other gas stations. Another benefit of being a Costco member.
As I pulled up to the pump I noticed four gas attendants pumping gas like crazy. I wondered why in the world Costco, of all places, would hire gas attendants to pump gas. Surely it would bring the cost of the gas up. I got out of my car, ran my American Express through and noticed that one of the attendants had the gas cap off and was about to put the hose into my tank. “Do you want a fill Sir?” she asked. “Yes” I said, “but I can handle it from here”.
With a grin she sternly said “Oh No You Can’t. Not in Oregon”. “In Oregon it is illegal to pump your own gas. We are kinda “Tree Huggers down here and it is an environmental law”.
The attendant explained that by having qualified people pump the gas it is safer, less spills and reduces the liability premiums on their insurance. She also let me know that at some gas stations they can be outright rude if you try to pump your own gas. So I stood back and for the first time in years had someone pump my gas for me. I must say that it was kind of nice. The price of the gas was about par with what we had been paying along the way, with the exception of California which is substantially higher.
As I drove away, I at first scoffed at the idea of a law that made it compulsory to have qualified attendants at the pump. But as I thought more about it I saw other benefits to it. Number one of course is the employment it creates. Obviously the gas stations have to charge more for the gas, but this is offset in Oregon by a lower State Tax on the gas. The State in turn collects income tax from the gas attendants and everyone is happy.
Now I am not an economist or in favour of unnecessary laws, but this one seems to benefit everyone, including consumers who are dressed for work in a suit or dress and don’t want to smell of gas when they arrive at work. Hmmm. Just a thought.