Lion of the Blogosphere

New Jersey and self-service gas stations

Since it was brought up in the comments…

New Jersey is the only state where self-service gas stations are illegal. (New Jersey used to be joined by Oregon, but Oregon has finally abolished that archaic featherbedding law.)

My experience buying gas in New Jersey is waiting an interminably long time in the car before the attendant finally comes over to you, and then waiting another interminably long time after the gas finishes pumping for the attendant to come back and finish the job.

It is believed that voters actually support this moronic law, and I chalk that up to fear of change, even if it’s change for the better. Furthermore, if there’s truly a market demand for full-service gasoline stations, then the service will continue to be offered. (However, based on how things are in every other state, no one wants to pay extra money per gallon for something they can easily do themselves.)

Why does New Jersey want to make people work a crappy job for low pay where the worker has to breathe in carcinogenic gasoline fumes all day when self-service works well everywhere else in the country? If there aren’t enough useful jobs to go around and we need to give people make-work because we believe that the bounty of our post-scarcity society shouldn’t be distributed to anyone unless they do something that looks like work, then we should give them more healthy and self-actualizing work to do.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 9, 2015 at 11:47 am

53 Responses

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  1. Because they have a guido governor, Chris Christie, who is also a Republican. Prole + Prole = No Self Actualization!


    September 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    • Republicans have an Early 20th Century, Industrial Complex.


      September 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    • You beat me to it! I was going to say sarcastically that anything wrong with New Jersey is obviously due to the presence of guidos!

      As for gas pumpers you are too young to remember this, but in the 1960s there was a famous song “Do you know the way to San Jose?” Dionne Warwick sang this. In it she talks of people who tried to get into show business but failed – the pertinent line is “and all the stars that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas.” Even in the great economic climate of the 1960’s, most people couldn’t self-actualize.


      September 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      • “pumped a lot of ‘pane down in New Orleans…” – CCR, 1969.

        E. Rekshun

        September 10, 2015 at 5:15 am

      • Everything is wrong with NJ, from a SWPL perspective.

        I can’t think of any place in NJ, remotely SWPL friendly, with the exception of the southernmost tip of Cape May, with its victorian homes and fine restaurants. However, you wouldn’t be sheltered from the godly sight of guidos, because many of them also visit the area to survey the beach, from the nearby Wildwood town. Then there’s Hoboken and Jersey City, which are the Joisey versions of Brooklyn, and are more like anomalies/outliers to a person like Christie (who’s thinking, they aren’t part of our Republican Jersey, they belong in Libby NYC). Christie, is often at odds, with the Democratic Mayors of both cities.


        September 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

  2. I’ve been through NJ but I must not have bought gas there because I do not remember this service. Sounds like a crappy job, especially in winter.


    September 9, 2015 at 12:32 pm

  3. According to the May 19 Oregonian, Oregon is still a self-serve “holdout.”


    September 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm

  4. My first girlfriend, whom I met in college, was from New Jersey. I taught her to pump her own gas, and she was super nervous about it. After graduation she settled in New Jersey, so I guess she never had to worry about it again.

    What more self-actualizing jobs do you think the people now pumping gas should be doing?


    September 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    • Jobs that are fun or creative in nature.


      September 9, 2015 at 8:57 pm

  5. I’ve been to some Jersey highway gas stations where literally every single attendant was an African. It was frankly weird and scary, as they are rude and aggressive and highly alien as they jabber loudly to one another in whatever language. But so much for “adding jobs,” since every man there (all men of course) was imported. Net new jobs for Jersey residents = zero.

    At other places you do see a lot of sort of bummed out white guys pumping gas, or American blacks. And really this is precisely why we need these sorts of jobs. We have to have low level jobs for the incompetent, the failures, etc. A big, big problem in America is how these jobs have been almost entirely farmed out to Hispanic immigrants, leading to a massive black unemployment and white working class unemployment, particularly among the young. Any idiot can pump gas; why are we importing idiots to do it?

    As a side note, it’s quite remarkable how different the service is depending on who is pumping your gas.

    African = surly, contemptuous, almost nasty, resentful, slow.
    White American = friendly, cheerful, fast paced.
    Black American = friendly, slow paced, taking his sweet old time
    Assorted weird Middle Easterner or Balkan type = slow, resentful, spiteful, undercurrent of anger


    September 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    • I think as automation and AI reduces more and more low level jobs, we might see more laws like this, in order to provide jobs for the left hand side of the Bell Curve. It might be a choice of pumping gas or a life of crime, and I know what I would prefer they do.

      Mike Street Station

      September 9, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    • This is true. In some of the smaller towns you will find mostly White gas pumpers. They’re nice enough guys, and they do a good job (to the extent that job can be done well). When you get an american black, service is slower but at least they can crack a good joke or folksy remark.

      arabs seem angry that they’re pumping infidels’ gas (taken from their homelands no doubt).

      Jumpin Jack Fash

      September 9, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      • When entering an Arab owned business, I often bring up discussions of the Middle East, and it lessens their angry mode. Not all Arabs are Muslims; you’d be surprised that quite a number of them are Christians, usually Coptic, if they’re Egyptian. I noticed the Levant types are “Whiter”, where they remind you of Greeks or Turks.


        September 9, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    • The immigrant owned gas stations usually have immigrant attendants (sometimes, in the case of the smaller ones, including the owner). But at a few newer gas station chains that have come to North Jersey (Wawa, Speedway, and Quick Check), the attendants tend to be young, white American guys.

      Dave Pinsen

      September 9, 2015 at 6:45 pm

  6. My experience in New Jersey with the gas stations there last year was quite nice. Full service is awesome.

    But then, I wasn’t in the shitty parts of NJ nor do I have to do that there on a regular basis.


    September 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm

  7. Maybe it’s a tourist attraction thing. Most Americans younger than about 40 have never seen a full service gas station. They’d probably think the attendant was a panhandler.


    September 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    • True, coming from the jungle where I spend my week, I feel NJ is a different world. Had a conversation with a Nigerian attendant yesterday in Manhattan. Nasty piece of work, we need to deport him.


      September 10, 2015 at 9:57 am

  8. “we should give them more healthy and self-actualizing work to do.”

    Not to mention more productive. At least the Civilian Conservation Corps projects were actually useful. I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that set up to help drug addicts, non violent offenders and chronically unemployed get straightened out. The first project could be building a nice fence long the border. Think of all the good 20 million people could do if they were being useful rather than hanging out on the street corner, passed out with a needle in their arm or prisoners sitting around watching TV. I hear The Price is Right is very popular in the slam.


    September 9, 2015 at 2:27 pm

  9. My experience buying gas in New Jersey is waiting an interminably long time in the car before the attendant finally comes over to you, and then waiting another interminably long time after the gas finishes pumping for the attendant to come back and finish the job.

    I live in New Jersey and it’s not that bad as long as you go to a cheap high volume station. It is in their interest to keep things moving and they do.

    It may actually be quicker than self serve where (because I pay cash) I have to wait in one line to pay in advance and in another line to get my change.

    James B. Shearer

    September 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    • Get a credit card or a debit card.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 9, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      • I have a credit card but the credit price is often 10 cents a gallon more. And there is some risk of getting your number stolen or being charged the wrong amount. Still probably the rational thing to do but I am used to paying cash.

        James B. Shearer

        September 9, 2015 at 11:10 pm

  10. They’re all Muslims, too. Every time you get gas in New Jersey you’re at the mercy of a Muslim. Same’s true of full service stations in Brooklyn as well. And almost every garage is owned and staffed by Muslims. (The fact that almost every grocery/candy store is also owned and staffed by Muslims is not as frightening, because the food comes in pre-wrapped packages.)


    September 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    • Count your change. They will short you when you pay cash.

      Copperhead Joe

      September 9, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      • Don’t most people buy some number of dollars’ worth of gas, not some number of gallons? If you ask for $20 of unleaded (or whatever), you pay with a $20 bill and just keep your eye on the meter.

        (Speaking of meters, are there still non-digital meters anywhere? As a kid in the ’80s I used to like seeing those wheels turn with that distinctive number font on them. They’re gone, aren’t they?)


        September 10, 2015 at 8:14 am

  11. I take gas in NJ every week and it’s fine. The blacks are no good, but where I take gas the attendants are middle eastern and fine. There is a nice coffee shop with a friendly white woman and an active Chinese guy going to culinary school. Great to get your coffee while your gas is being pumped and catch up on how the Chinese is progressing in his studies and to discuss his latest tattoo. I mean, can you talk to robot about his tatts? No way! Can a robot be friendly and cheerful? With that metal heart I should think not!


    September 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm

  12. Socialism in disguise, you just accept because that’s all you know.

    Vladimir Dorta

    September 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm

  13. “Maybe it’s a tourist attraction thing. Most Americans younger than about 40 have never seen a full service gas station.” Do they have those black hose-like things that go “ding! ding!” when you drive over them, alerting the attendant that a customer has arrived?

    I think of NJ’s full-serve-only policy as the Bruce Springsteen rule. If the Boss pumped gas, and then later sung about it, then how could they get rid of it?

    Gilbert Ratchet

    September 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

  14. Again, the Guaranteed Minimum Income would be great. But it only works in a society of basically responsible people who would keep themselves in shape, not commit crime, not have kids they can’t afford, etc. Welfare should go to decent hardworking people who stay out of trouble; not the people who only cause trouble.


    September 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm

  15. My first real job was pumping gas – at 14 y/o in the late ’70s. The owner was a mostly absentee playboy. I had my own key to the place and, in the summer, sometimes worked 7:00am – 11:00pm, all for $2 per hour. I learned how to work on cars and when I got my drivers license I took the tow truck home at night and went out on calls. My parents made me quit when I got robbed at knifepoint, handcuffed, and beaten by two NAMs just before closing time one Saturday night. They caught the perps and I testified in court against them; they were both convicted and each sentenced to a few years imprisonment. I think that spurred an interest in law and, ten years later, one wasted year at a toilet law school.

    E. Rekshun

    September 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm

  16. (However, based on how things are in every other state, no one wants to pay extra money per gallon for something they can easily do themselves.)

    I’d prefer self-service, but gas attendant labor costs are a negligible portion of the cost of gas, and New Jersey has some of the lowest gas prices in the country. I filled up for $1.95 per gallon a few days ago.

    BTW, on the one or two occasions I’ve filled up in Manhattan (something I avoid doing), the gas stations weren’t self-service.

    Dave Pinsen

    September 9, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    • “New Jersey has some of the lowest gas prices in the country. I filled up for $1.95 per gallon a few days ago.”

      True. You can easily save 50 cents or more a gallon getting your gas in NJ vs. NY. And you still get the full service. That’s why Yakov above fills up in Jersey when he can. So do I. Some schmuck getting minimum wage isn’t doing a thing to change the price at the pump, and at least he’s some schmuck getting minimum wage. I may be a minority here, but I still say work is noble, any work, self-actualizing be damned. Because it’s WORK. It’s not sitting on your ass and getting a check. That’s why ALL welfare should be work-based. I don’t care if you paint a wall white one day and black the next; get off your ass, show up on time, and do something for your pay.


      September 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    • Is owning a gas station in manhattan lucrative?


      September 9, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      • The profit margin for the station is something like $0.03 per gallon/ The stations make their money on auto repair. The stop-and-robs, like 7-11, make their money on selling a high volume of low-margin foodstuffs.

        E. Rekshun

        September 10, 2015 at 5:02 am

  17. I tend to get a lot of hostility from arab (or indian?) attendants. Some can’t even say “cash or credit” coherently enough for me to decipher what’s going on, then they treat ME like I’m the stupid one. There is one exception, a station on Richmond Terrace that has bizarrely friendly attendants and where people of all races congregate to enjoy beer, sandwiches, and day long conversations. It’s really weird, some kind of actualized multicultural paradise with a view of chemical refineries across the tidal strait. Incidentally it’s not true all stations are run by arabs, there is a chain on SI run by an orthodox jewish guy who once kindly (cough) offered me a ride home the three blocks to my house when my car was being serviced. Yeah sure, I’ll take that ride.

    slithy toves

    September 9, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    • I get the impression that a lot of gas station attendants hate their job.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 9, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      • When I was a teen pumping gas it was exhausting and unpleasant in inclement weather, but I didn’t hate my job; though I didn’t really know better and didn’t really have any alternative. But as soon as I got a job offer to work indoors, I quit. It would rather suck to be pumping gas for a living as a grown man.

        E. Rekshun

        September 10, 2015 at 5:06 am

  18. Lion, I usually agree with your blog posts, but this is one that I completely disagree with. Being a Manhattanite, do you even own a car? How often do you even fill up at a gas station? And your misguided belief that full-service gas stations are more expensive than self-service ones is completely off the mark. Gas is much cheaper in full-service NJ than it is in self-service NY. And the convenience of full-service in NJ allows you to do more important things like check your text messages or e-mails instead of having to get out of your car, put your credit card in, pump the gas, and have the possibility of a few drops of gas drip on your Stacy Adams while you’re removing the hose from your car.


    September 9, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    • Gasoline is less expensive in Jersey because of lower gas taxes and a less transportation costs from refinery to gas station. They would be ten cents per gallon lower with self service.

      I am sure for many years gas stations will still offer full service at a higher price so if you want to pay extra so you can play with your iPhone, you will be able to.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 9, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      • “I am sure for many years gas stations will still offer full service at a higher price so if you want to pay extra so you can play with your iPhone, you will be able to.”

        I live in NY 5 minutes away from the NJ border. So the only 2 options that I have are either fill up in NY or NJ. I choose to fill up in NJ because it is much cheaper than in NY. So I’m not really paying anything extra for full service, am I? I am saving money compared to filling up in NY taking into account the only 2 options that I have.


        September 10, 2015 at 5:48 am

    • California is the #3 oil producing state in the US, with 3X the refining capacity of the entire northeast, yet gas still costs 70 cents/gallon more than in NY. The price of gas in a given location is, like cigarettes, based on taxes, not production or transportation costs. But your statement does demonstrate one thing: NJ gas stations could pay attendants $25 – $30 an hour and still be cheaper than NYC.

      “I am sure for many years gas stations will still offer full service at a higher price so if you want to pay extra so you can play with your iPhone, you will be able to.”

      Actually I suspect they’d disappear almost instantly; the automation is well developed and not very expensive. In fact it may be in place already.


      September 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

  19. I’m the impatient type. If they dont come right over I start pumping myself. They come over and check to make sure I did it right but dont complain. Yeah, ok, my IQ is about 50 points higher than these guys but they do know that particular pump better than I do, I’ll give them that.


    September 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm

  20. I assure you Oregonians do not pump their own gasoline.


    September 9, 2015 at 10:42 pm

  21. Lion, what is this Brave New World you want? Robots working jobs and people lying around enjoying themselves? Sounds like Westworld. What kind of economy can you have when no one works? Where does the value of people come in? This idea of a workerless economy doesn’t take in human nature. Sure most people hate working, and dream of a glorious retirement. They go on and on about how they will travel and have a garden. Then they retire, and spend a week or two gardening before they realize they hate it. They sit around at home mindlessly, bored completely out of their minds. Then in a month or two they die because their will to live is gone.
    Most people have no self actualization. They have little or no interest in learning or real hobbies to occupy their time. They hate work, but without it they have nothing to do, or any interest in doing anything else. A lot of people need the structure of work to get them out of bed and doing something. Even makework jobs give some structure and meaning to people who don’t really have any interests at all.
    Work is the identity for many people who have little personality. That CPA is his job. Without jobs a large portion of the population would have nothing to do or even talk about. These mindless drones need a job to give them an identity and personality. Without their job to talk about, they sit around uncomfortably with nothing to say or do. You may not be like this, but what about the millions that are?

    Joshua Sinistar

    September 10, 2015 at 1:18 am

    • You’ve the nail on the head!

      Jonathan Silber

      September 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    • From the novel “Brave New World”: “The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma”.


      September 10, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    • this. so much this.

      james n.s.w

      September 11, 2015 at 5:24 am

  22. Here in South Korea, full-service gas stations are the norm, and gas prices are already high here. Don’t underestimate the appeal of sitting on your ass and having things done for you.

    Then again, Koreans get shit done fast, though that too comes at a cost, usually at the cost of safety. For example, you’re not required to turn your engine off when tanking up here, which is unsafe.

    Also, many Koreans don’t go the self-service route simply because they don’t know how to pump gas at all. They’d rather pay more to not have to look stupid learning how. Meanwhile, I save a bundle pumping gas myself.


    September 10, 2015 at 3:23 am

  23. I’ve never lived in a place where people pumped their own gas. As a kid I remember the family taking a drive through some of the southern states and my father got out of the car to pump the gas himself. I thought for a moment that he was stealing the gas! Then he explained to me that unlike in our home state of New Jersey, people could just pump their own gas. What’s to stop people from driving off without paying?


    September 10, 2015 at 8:21 am

    • @Kyo What’s to stop people from driving off without paying?

      It’s called a “fill & fly” and, surprisingly, it doesn’t happen very often. More so when gas hits $4/gallon.

      E. Rekshun

      September 10, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    • “… What’s to stop people from driving off without paying?”

      These days if you are paying cash you generally have to pay in advance (to unlock the pump). This didn’t use to be the case but things changed a few years ago.

      James B. Shearer

      September 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      • another victim of diversity and low trust.


        September 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      • in australia it’s not like that anywhere. you pump before you pay, making it really easy for people just to fill and run.

        james n.s.w

        September 11, 2015 at 8:01 am

  24. New York and Connecticut are very different when it comes to gas stations. A substantial percentage of New York stations are full serve, I’d say a third or even more, while in Connecticut full serve is basically extinct.



    September 10, 2015 at 9:24 am

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