My family and I just returned from a pleasant vacation in Oregon.  I was reminded of the fact – forgotten until pulling up to the first station – that you can’t pump your own gas in that state.  Self-serve is verboten.   Oregon law forbids you, the lawful owner of a vehicle requiring gasoline, to freely visit an establishment offering said fuel for sale, purchase the offered product, and dispense it into your car.

The sudden appearance at your window of the teenager’s grinning face is mildly startling, but you get used to it.  You and the youth then stand awkwardly next to the pump and negotiate the deal:

Youth:        Welcome to Texaco!

(Silence)

You:           Um, I guess I’ll just have the “87”.

Youth:        Cash, credit, or debit?

You:           Credit.

(Silence)

You:           Oh! You want my card?  Here you go.

Youth (inserting the card):  Thank you, I’ll be back.

The youth then activates the pump and disappears to cheerfully repeat his script for another startled out-of-state motorist.

My wife and I had plenty of time while snailing along at 65 on the long stretches between Pendleton and The Dalles to ponder why otherwise intelligent legislators of The Weenie State would make a law forcing low-paid teenagers to perform a task which any non-lobotomized adult can perform in his sleep?

Maybe it’s the environmental benefits.  Unlike you rubes, the teenagers can be trained to not to spill one drop of that vile petroleum-based substance on the concrete where it might cause irreparable harm to the environment by evaporating.  Perhaps Oregon’s legislators really do believe that a major contingency of Oregonians are simply incapable of competently fueling their vehicle:  “You tellin me this stuff ain’t for washin the possum bluhd off mah windshield?”  Or, it could be the result of a massive lobbying effort by the Associated Teenage Fuel Dispensers of Oregon.

Even if we discovered the rationale, it undoubtedly would make sense only in the fantastical minds of those who are busily engaged in making our lives better and more prosperous through endless restrictions on liberty.  So, I wouldn’t recommend trying to understand.  Just obey.

Which I didn’t.  At one fuel stop, the teenager had not yet returned to cheerfully complete the fill-up when the nozzle clicked off.  After furtively surveying the pump bays for undercover fuel police, I made a break for it.  That’s right, I COMPLETED THE FILLING OF MY OWN TANK!  What’s more, I RETURNED THE NOZZLE TO THE PUMP AND TOOK MY  OWN RECEIPT!

Being a fugitive now, I don’t know how much longer I can continue these essays.  I may have to go underground, which actually should be fairly easy:  I’ll buy some Birkenstocks and pre-soiled, pre-ripped jeans, grow my hair long and never comb it, and move to Oregon.  They’ll never find me!

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