I’m old and I don’t understand anything, part one


The thing that makes me angrier than high gas prices is that the very act of pumping gas has become complicated.

It used to be simple: Insert nozzle, flip the lever up, pull trigger. Even Goober Pyle could do it without thinking.

Now you have to push a series of buttons indicating your payment method, octane rating of the fuel, etc. — and it’s different everywhere you go. No matter how they lay out the options or try to use a bright color to highlight the “start” button, there will never be a simpler way than the good ol’ lever.

It’s become so complex, the Hermantown Amoco now has a screen with instructions (pictured above).


I agree. And I don't like that pump's attitude. Cheeky.

I suppose greater options bring greater confusion to the party.

It bothers me, too. I tend to lean toward the KISS principle. The user interface should be appropriate, and in this case, it doesn't seem that way.

My opinion is that if somebody said you can have a HUMV with GPS to go into the jungle, or a beat-up '75 Toyota Landcruiser, I'd actually go with the latter because I can fix it in the field (it fits on the trails too).

i hate it when the guy yells at me over the loudspeaker.

"pay inside," sheesh. why do i need to push a button for that? can't you just assume i'm going to do it if i don't pay beforehand?

It is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon and New Jersey.

I think it would promote more jobs. I will always remember my dad deciding whether to go to the full service station or the self-service. When it was cold the full-service station was definitely on the list. It was only a few cents more expensive and they washed your windows.

I haven't seen a full-service gas station in at least 5 years.

Full service stations that I know of: Mondays at London Road Car Wash and every day at Dieryck's Service Station in West Duluth on Cody Street!

Full service at 4th street and 12th avenue east still current?
I get confused just trying to remember what side my gas tank is on!

That decal appears to be based on the "I'm with stupid" t-shirt.

i miss your informative and insightful articles in Business North.

Ghetto Spur at the base of the High Bridge on the Superior side - Jim'll pump your gas with a smile. he's been a gas attendant for years and years. Nicest guy you'll ever meet.

Tamara, you may also refer to that particular spur station as "Chicken Spur" or "Greasy Spur" or "Brown Food Spur". All are acceptable nicknames.

Jim's truly a sweetheart, too.

From "personal experience", I was under the impression that ghetto spur was located at the foot of the Blatnik bridge. Apparently, (according to locals) that is actually the chicken spur location (as Kelli had mentioned) and ghetto spur is a few blocks down on Hammond.

Could be worse. In 1988, right after I got my license, I was out with some friends rolling in high style in my parents super-awesome Suburban; I stopped for gas, which was a relatively new thing for me, and became increasingly alarmed (and embarrassed) when I couldn't get the nozzle in the fill tube. Only after a fair amount of head-scratching did I realize I had stopped at what must have been the last gas station in town that had a leaded pump.

You think it's complicated now! Just wait until pumps have loan applications and you have to bring proof of employment.

As Kelly said, the Hammond Spur is known as "Ghetto Spur" or "Chicken Spur." I've never heard the one a few blocks down from there called anything but the Broadway Spur.

The gas station at 6th Avenue East and 4th Street in Duluth was known as the Ghetto Spur for years. Now the station is a SuperAmerica, and is known as the Ghetto SA--or simply "the SA's," in the curiously plural vernacular of the Hillside: "Take me to the SA's."

As far as I know the gas station known as "ghetto spur" is STILL known as ghetto spur, even though it hasn't been a spur for awhile. It briefly became a food -n- fuel before becoming a superamerica.

I had never heard the term "ghetto" spur used for any place in superior, especially not the hammond spur.

I had never heard of "brown" spur before either. But then I am getting old and maybe I missed some sort of revolution in local slang.

To the original point: I have noticed that many gas stations are becoming "pre-pay" at their pumps that are closest to the road. And that's usually where i like to fill up the love van because there is room to breathe ... and I don't like parallel parking when it comes to getting gas. If this trend continues I think that full serve may be coming back more and more places.

It's funny. Everyone around here says "SA". I lived in Wichita, KS for about a year. The big convenience store there is QuickTrip. Everyone would just say "I'm going to the QT". It sounded a lot like "cutie" and the first few times I heard it I thought people were talking about going to see some young, cute stripper or something.

And the gas station known as Broadway Spur should be called THE GODDAMN GAS STATION THAT DOESNT HAVE SLURPEES ANYMORE!

JP: not "Brown Spur", it's nicknamed "Brown FOOD Spur" because they vend a smorgasbord of fried brown food (clever, huh?). Most folks over the bridge just call it "Chicken Spur" though. I've also called it "Heartburn Spur", but that's just me. They should hand out free antacids with every order of jalapeno poppers and jo-jos they sell after 11 PM.

they have deep-fried mashed potatoes. It's like a little bit of deep-fried potato heaven. :)

I know, huh!

Meanwhile They devalue your precious dollar. And the little commodities scream like
girl scouts on the roller coaster. But only on the ups, a silence sweet as Samoas greets the rarefied downs.

The idea of mandating full service gas pumps as a way to create jobs is silly. Gasoline retailers barely make anything on selling gasoline. There is a reason almost all gas stations have a c-store. They want you to come in and buy other stuff. Beside, who really wants to pump gasoline for a living?

Sorry, I need to ammend my last comment.
I did a bit of research and it seems that the gas retailing model in Oregon and New Jersey work fine, because the markets in both states have evolved to work with full service only.
Switching the existing model in MN might create a large amount of initial chaos.
Might be easier just to chuck the automobile entirely. :)

I would never suggest mandatory full serve, just to clarify. I agree that most of the mark up and profits at gas stations are from the "c-store" items. BUT ... when I "pre-pay" I usually just get the gas and drive off. THEREFORE, I see a model emerging where the person pulls up, tells the attendant how much gas and then goes in to buy chips and diapers (and slurpees where available) then pays the for the stuff and the gas on the way out. Another potential profit item is/are oil, oil changes, and other "car products." That can be sold by the gas filler dude/dudette.

I am not sure if this is more profitable than the c-store model we have been used to, BUT a "filler-up" technician is BOUND to reduce the amount of drive-offs and it sounds like mom and pop gas stations are loosing their lunches on that theft ... So it is an adaptation that would be more amenable to growth by providing something that is "value added" and simultaneously prevents thefts at the same time. Kind of a life gives you lemons make lemonade approach if you will

These are all just idle thoughts, I know, but isn't that mainly what PDD is for? That and arguing about the arts, stupid people and "the man."

As for gas pumps... It was hilarious watching European/Asian tourists try to use our ~50 year old pump while I was working in Alaska.

It was the kind with mechanical rollers for gallons/price, and only one type of gas. All you have to do is flip the lever to turn the pump on.

You see the self-service model happening in grocery stores, and it seems to work pretty well. I haven't done the research on Oregon laws, but I'm guessing their inception had more to do with safety than runaways.

While we were stopped at a light once in heavy traffic, we had the privilege of seeing a young lass put out her cigarette, by hand (crushing technique), on the ground right next to where she spilled a bunch of gasoline from filling up. You could actually see the soaking on the ground from where we were. Nothing happened, but still, it gave me goosebumps (or should I say "the" goosebumps :)

As far as I'm concerned, the SA on 6th & 4th is still the Ghetto Spur. In my experience, you can get into any cab in the city and say, "Take me to the Ghetto Spur," and they know what you mean. Once, a few weeks ago, I said "Take me to the SA on 6th & 4th," and the driver said, "Do you mean the Ghetto Spur?"

I've never heard of any other Spur referred to as the Ghetto Spur.

One of the guys working there told me he now refers to it as "Super Ghetto America," which is pretty funny.

Lastly, if any of you are Facebook members, I manage the group, "Fans of the Ghetto Spur." Please join!

I agree with Barrett and all the others, the only Ghetto Spur is on 6th East and Fourth St. I seemed to end up there a lot back in the day because if you were out drinking Downtown and needed cigs or something, it was the closest place that was open late. And my idiot cousin never figured that a steady night of drinking might warrant more than one freaking pack of cigarettes. I also ended up buying a Mother's Day card there once at 2AM the night before the big day. Not my proudest moment.

I grew up in a full-service gas station/liquor store/log cabin in Alaska. I don't know why my dad thought that full-service was a great idea. The main reason I'd go to a full-service place now is that they check your oil and wash your windows. [At least, we did at our station.] I'm not certain about this, but I was under the impression that Oregon is full-service by law, and that (in part) the legislation was enacted to provide jobs.

Also, I'm sticking with "Gangsta Spur", since that's what the Giljunko song calls it.

St. Cloud has a c-store called the "Pump and Munch."

how sick is that?

I saw a Pump n' Munch in Rochester about 4 years ago and we couldn't stop giggling. Who came up with that name? Food 'n Fuel? Sure. Gas 'n Sip? Why not. Pump 'n Munch? Ok.....

Pump n' Munch is funny, but not half as funny as Kum & Go. I just about died the first time I saw one of those...

On topic: the Spur at the Superior foot of the Blatnik was being referred to as the "Ghetto Spur" at least as far back as when my older brother started college in Duluth in '94. All my friends in Superior still call it that.

I can remember referring to the "ghetto spur" on 4th & 6th as far back as late '80s. I know the greasy food spur well, but have never heard of it referred to as "ghetto spur".

As a lifelong Superiorite, I will say that my friends and I refer to the Hammond Spur as "Chicken Spur" and the Broadway Spur as "Slurpee Spur" although, alas, they no longer have Slurpees.

I have never heard of the "Brown Food Spur" and both have been called "Ghetto Spur" before.

Also, the BP on Belknap and Weeks (I think that's the cross street--across from where Central Junior High used to be) also is full service and has been for as long as I can remember--back to the time when my mom could "fill 'er up" for less than ten bucks.

I have heard most of the kids at SHS call the Spur at the base of the Blatnik the "Chicken Spur" or "Ghetto Spur." Never "Brown..."

As for pump options, I like what many pumps have out west, credit card and bill validators.

Usually, I prefer to munch, then pump...but that's just me.

Sorry folks, I couldn't resist that one.

Having lived here only since 2004 I really enjoy reading about the local cultural trivia on PDD.
I grew up in Seattle where on every corner you could find a 7-11,they were all referred to as "stop and rob's"

In any case, I'd rather pump my own gas, thank you very much, no matter how complicated they make it.

I've hung out with Superior guys/gals very often, both in the 90's past and recently, and never once heard "ghetto spur". Surely, you would think I have. Was I with the wrong type of people?

DEFINITELY joining that facebook group...

And I don't like the sign on the pump...much as I like to brand people "Idiot" when they so richly deserve it, this sign is kind of a blanket "You're all morons" thing. You should do the Idiot/Not An Idiot thing on a case-by-case basis.

You could have two buttons on the pump: "I think I understand", or "I think I don't understand", and then, like clockwork, a worker appears when pressing the second one. ;-)

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