It’s a Mad, Mad World

A Nifty Look at Firsts in the Self-Service Industry

This may be an older topic, but I’d like to visit it for a moment.  For the first time ever (yes, ever), the people of Oregon are pumping their very own gasoline into their very own cars, and it is Armageddon out there (read here). The concept is hardly new – as the rest of us know all too well, and it doesn’t affect everyone within the state; the angst is, however, very real.

Some people are claiming that only qualified people can pump gasoline (I guess those that have that rare Masters’ Degree in Pumpology), others are claiming it will end jobs in the illustrious gas pumping job markets, and others are somehow incorporating this into the global warming argument.

In the spirit of this, I’d like to point out a few other “self-service areas” that we, as modern technological wizards, have overcome.

  1. The Slurpee Machine

How his hands must have trembled in fear, rattling his plastic Slurpee cup, as Maurice Von Slurper stepped before the intimidating machine in his local 7-11.  Could he?  Couldn’t he?  What if he spilled?  Did he dare take on the challenge of mixing two flavors into the same cup?  Would it overflow?  What if he under-filled it, and ended up still having to pay full price? I cannot imagine the thoughts flowing through this man’s mind as he pulled that lever for the very first time.

  1. The ATM

Maude Moola stared at the ATM on the wall in abject fear.  It not only sucked her card away from view, but it was asking VERY personal questions.  She drew a deep breath and reached out a shaking finger to push “Enter.”  There were whirring sounds from deep within the machinery, and she jumped back in terror.  Then, suddenly, cash spit out at her through a narrow opening, and her card reappeared magically before her eyes.  In a later in-depth interview with her local paper, Maude was quoted as saying, “I truly hope they give that tiny little man in that machine a break now and then. I feel for him, I really do.”

  1. Redbox

Cindy Ma was a risk taker, it’s true, and she boldly punched that touch-screen to explore the cinematic options as they unfolded before her.  She snatched the movie from the slot and held it triumphantly over her head as the spectators cheered.  It is rumored her first words after dominating the Redbox and opening the clear plastic case to her movie were, “Blue Ray?  What in the world is a Blue Ray?”

  1. The Library

Not only can you now check out books via self-serve in some libraries, you can return them that way as well.  Henry McHermit was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that he now only had to wear pants one time per library visit; the book return was done with a machine built into the outer wall of the library. He didn’t even have to exit his car. Joy of joys! Unfortunately for McHermit, he decided to celebrate by going through a drive through Burger King where the cashier was, in fact, a person and who sat up much higher than our pantless McHermit realized.  Charges are pending.  McHermit assures us that he is planning on wearing pants to the hearing. Everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief.

  1. Self-Check-Out Lanes

Poor Barry Scanner was stuck in the endless loop of “unexpected item in bagging area” and “item removed from bagging area, please replace the item” for nearly twenty minutes as the first user of the self-check-out lane at the Piggly Wiggly.  In that twenty minutes, Mr. Scanner developed intense feelings for the register.  “Her voice,” Mr. Scanner explained, “just droned on and on, repeating the same two phrases over and over in a nagging way.  It reminded me so much of my ex-wife.”  His heart was broken, however, when he found that the love of his life was also working at Wal Mart, Home Depot, and three other grocery stores at the same time.  “I had to break up with her,” he sobbed.  “So many people scanning items, over and over…and who knows how many items were scanned before mine?”  The self-service register was unavailable for comment, but a source close to her says that the machine kept repeating “Item not found” when informed of Mr. Scanner’s intention to break up with her.

So, Oregonians, take heart.  You will overcome your current situation, I swear.  Get out and pump that gas with confidence and swagger; just not with a lit cigarette. Or a cell phone.

5 thoughts on “It’s a Mad, Mad World

  1. Having pumped my own gas here in New Mexico for most of the 40 plus years I have lived here, as well as in the many states I have driven through in those years, I can’t begin to fathom why it has not been allowed in Oregon?

  2. Although self service fuel is the norm in UK it is still often the case that someone will do it for you in Spain.
    Now, as for self service check-outs, I avoid them like the plague, I would rather stand in a thirty minute queue than suffer the humiliation of trying to scan and pack with its constant rebukes and referrals to a check-out supervisor.

  3. With the passing of the full service gas stations (I’m thinking of the scene in “Back To The Future” here) also passes the opportunity for some truly great “Candid Camera” bits. One in particular I remember, they removed the engine from a car, then gave it a push to have it roll into a service station, at which point the “dingbat” driver would try to have the attendant fix it. “I don’t know what happened, it was running fine, then there was this bang and it got really quiet!”

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