Gas up

Growing up in Jersey was wonderful, except for one small thing – you can’t pump your own damned gas. Full serve only. Why?

As long as you stay in state, you’re fine. Leave town and you’d better know what you’re doing. The first time I had to pump my own gas, I was in the middle of Pennsylvania with an empty tank and no clue how to fill it. I had to ask the guy behind me in line what I was supposed to do. Talk about embarrassing. 

Now I’m getting to teach my kids how to pump their own gas. You wouldn’t think that’s terribly complicated, but it is. Some machines need you to do this and that, and others want you to do some other thing. No consistency.

Beware, my child, the station by your grandparents’ house that spits the receipt out at you at such a high velocity that you’ll have to chase it down. Not the sort of advice you picture giving your child, but there we are.

If the pump tells you to pay inside, go on in and make pleasant small talk with the employees. They’ll probably be thrilled that you’re not bitching at them like some other customers unfortunately will.

Wash your windows and then be sure to wash your headlights and tail lights too, especially after winter storms. Never mind that whatever the road treatment crews put down did nothing to make your drive shorter or easier. It will stick to your car like glue. You need to see and be seen. Keep ’em clean.

Make sure your oil is changed on schedule. Having your engine die is no fun. Ask me. While you’re at it, let me tell you about the time I didn’t make sure my washer fluid was full before taking a post storm trip home during college. Trying to find the exit for Bruceton Mills with my head sticking out the window because my windshield was crusted with filth was not fun. You’ll have plenty of adventures in your lifetime. Skip that one, ok?

It’s the lot of little things that make up a lifetime. Teaching the kids those little lessons helps me notice just how much detail life holds on a daily basis. Things aren’t as boring as they seem. Seeing it through their eyes helps me appreciate the parts as well as the whole. 

I just wish I could say the same thing about teaching them how to park.

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