Guzzling gas and soda: A comparison

Last month, whilst in Vegas visiting the in-laws, my wife and I stopped for gas (or ‘petrol’ as it’s known in the civilised world). The way they ‘pump gas’ in America is in complete contrast to how we do it in the UK.

Here we drive up to the pump, get out of the car, open the petrol cap and start filling. When we’re finished we head into the shop and pay for it.  In America they drive up to the pump (from any entrance I might add; none of this ‘way in’ and ‘way out’ bollocks), go into the shop, pay in advance for fuel (and snacks and beverages) and then head back to their vehicle and fill up.

The American approach comes with two pros and a con.

Pro number 1 – If you decide you want to spend $30 on gas (petrol), you pay the clerk in the shop and your pump is credited with exactly $30. There’s no chance of putting in more than you can afford. And on top of this, you can clip the trigger in position and leave it pumping fuel knowing you will never put in more than you want to spend.

pump gas

Genius.

Why aren’t we doing this?

It saves on hand strain and gives you more time to do other things, like eating.

If you then discover that your tank only needed, say, $25 worth of gas (petrol) you go back inside and the clerk behind the counter gives you back the difference.

Simple.

Pro number 2 – There’s no chance of people filling up and then not having the means to pay, or filling up and fucking off.

It’s a bit like prostitution but with pumps instead of pimps.

Con – You don’t get to play the ‘Petrol Pump Game’.

The what?

Allow me to elaborate. Let’s say you want to put £30 of fuel in your vehicle’s tank.  You start filling up until the price gets to somewhere around £29.85 at which point you ease off the trigger, slowing down the pumping speed.

(He he)

Then you start to adopt the technique of squeezing the trigger gently at little intervals to hit the price exactly at £30.

£29.85

Gentle squeeze.

£29.91

Gentle squeeze.

£29.95

Very gentle squeeze.

£29.96

Very gentle squeeze.

£29.97

VERY gentle squeeze.

£29.99

A squeeze so gentle it wouldn’t pop a soapy bubble even if your fingers were covered in coarse sand.

£30.01

Bollocks!

You then decide to go to £31.

Squeeze.

£30.85

Gentle squeeze.

£30.91

Very gentle squeeze.

£30.97

VERY gentle squeeze.

£30.98

A squeeze so gentle it can’t be measured at a microscopic level.

£31.01

Fuuuuuuck!!

This continues until you either:

  • Finally hit a round number.
  • Admit defeat and pay the extra penny, convinced the clerk is laughing at you behind those eyes.
  • Fill your tank.

It’s not a great game and can be quite costly, but there’s no feeling like hitting the price dead on, first time.  I’ve been known to let out the occasional air grab, sometimes accompanied by an “Aww Yeah!”

Anyway, whilst at the gas (petrol) station in Vegas I decided to get a drink because it was a very hot day, or as the locals call it; “a day”.  I was expecting to see a few fridges full of various beverages, the brands of which I’d never heard of, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer choice of refreshments available to me.

As well as the aforementioned fridges full to the brim with beer, wine, sodas (soft drinks) and so on, there were also aisles (plural!) of crisps (chips), nuts, beef jerky, slim jims (Peperami), candy (sweets and chocolate), cakes, sandwiches, cereals and other brightly coloured bags of chemicals and deliciousness too numerous to mention.

Most of these on a ridiculously huge scale!

big rice cake

And it didn’t stop there. There was a hot counter that had burgers, hot dogs, burritos, nachos, pies and pasties (the UK word for a type of pie and not the US word for a small plastic nipple hat)

In addition there was a coffee station that had more options than a Starbucks, a milkshake station that not only allowed you to choose your flavour(s) but also how thick you wanted it, a massive slushy machine with various flavours and the most amazing machine I’d ever seen; a touch screen soda dispenser with an overload of choices.

Oh, and everything was self-serve.

So let me tell you about this epic soda machine.

Firstly you’re presented with a screen with 24 choices of beverage.

That’s 24.

imagesPR1FKG3G

This is a significantly larger choice of drinks than any dispenser I’ve ever seen in the UK, which usually consist of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta.

That’s 4.

It’s an impressive choice but I wasn’t surprised at all because it’s what I expected from an American soda machine.  I selected Caffeine Free Diet Coke and prepared to fill up my oversized 64oz (approx 2 litre) plastic cup.

But no, there was another layer of choices awaiting me.

images34RVM3MM

Yes, that’s right.  I could have…

  • Cherry
  • Orange
  • Vanilla
  • Raspberry
  • Lime
  • Cherry Vanilla

…versions of Caffeine Free Diet Coke.

What the hell??  That’s AWESOME!

This got me thinking, is it the same for other drinks?

Yep.

imagesLH6K4J4H

Orange Fanta Zero comes with the option of:

  • Cherry
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Grape
  • Lime
  • Fruit Punch
  • Peach

imagesNXJC7Q8I

Lemonade comes with the option of:

  • Cherry
  • Orange
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Fruit Punch

images3KHD0GK8

Even Ginger Ale gets a flavour makeover:

  • Orange
  • Cherry
  • Vanilla
  • Lime
  • Raspberry

My wife wanted Dr.Pepper and she had the choices of Cherry Dr.Pepper or Cherry Vanilla Dr.Pepper in addition to the (now somewhat boring) regular Dr.Pepper.

I’d never seen anything like it.

And yet, with all the awesome innovations in convenience and technology, the Americans STILL don’t appreciate the importance of privacy in the toilet!

stall gap

“Peek-a-boo! I see poo!”

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A door able?

In our modern society, technology has made our lives that little bit easier.  We can now contact our friends whenever and wherever we want, we have an unlimited source of information to hand 24/7 via the internet and toilets in Japan wash your undercarriage for you when you’re done.

On occasion technology can be a proper pain in the ass when something fails to work.

Case in point…

I noticed at the train station this morning that the sliding entrance doors to the building were ‘out of service’.  I know this because someone had taped a very untechnological piece of A4 paper to the door; I can only assume to prevent those of us reliant on technology walking into them face first.

It can happen.  I’ve seen it.  Fucking funny.

It got me thinking about how a door can be ‘out of service’.  If someone says the word ‘door’ we tend to conjure up an image of a rectangular wooden affair with a handle, on hinges, in a frame.  The door may be locked, the door may ‘stick a little’, it may even have busted hinges and needs a bit of a push to open…but never ever is it ‘out of service’.

What next?

“I’m sorry, this pot pourri is out of service”. 
“I’m afraid the lawn is malfunctioning”.
“I do apologise but the cutlery is out of order”.

(Well actually, to someone with OCD that last one is already a stark reality).

Back in the 80’s I used to dream of the day we would have cool sliding doors like the corridors of the Starship Enterprise.  Now they’re an every day reality which we all take for granted, as well as the fact that they regularly break down.  We simply read the poorly spelt A4 warning and go to the ‘adjecant door’.

This never happened to Kirk; ever.

And as I remember the embarrassment a few months ago of standing in a revolving door waiting for it to move, only to be told I had to push it; I ask myself this….

Are we becoming too reliant on the convenience of technology? 

I’ll Google it.

Compute this….

‘Information Technology’ sounds really important and futuristic….and let’s be honest, it is.  It’s the cornerstone of our modern society.  From iPhones to www.goatsinlycra.com, we all rely on some form of modern tech to help our lives feel easier, convenient, more stretchygoaty and somewhat less like our parents told us it used to be in the “good old days before all this youtunes rubbish!”.
 
Yeah right!
So why then, when we abbreviate it to I.T. does it become the subject of gripes, groans and the rolling of eyes?  ‘Information Technology’ is the need to strive for the future along the superhighway of science, progress and utter coolness; Tron style….whereas ‘I.T.’ is a bloke called Dave who asks you if you could “switch it off and then switch it on again”.  How did that happen?
 
It occurred to me, whilst I snaffled down my disappointing lunch from Tesco and engaged in conversation with our resident I.T. guru, that he wields an exceptional amount of power in our place of business.  Think about it….if you piss him off, he could “log your issue and get back to you”, whereas if you ply him with chocolates and praise him, he’ll switch your machine off and on again FOR YOU!
 
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy and his initials are PC….I shit you not.  Hmm, maybe I’ll start using the nickname ‘Mac’, just to mix it up a bit.  But ‘great guy’ aside, what a wasted opportunity.  If it were me, I’d be sat behind a big-ass desk in a big-ass office with big-ass shades on, looking like some kind of stereotyped mob boss, complete with big-ass bodyguards in Apple Genius t-shirts, hot dancing girls dressed like Trinity from the Matrix and a gunholster under my jacket for not one, but TWO smartphones. 
 
Oh yeah…
 
I’m relatively switched on as far as modern tech is concerned, but on occasion I also get frustrated with it and resort to percussive maintenance (hitting it until it works).  This is when I need help understanding why my printer won’t print (the ONE thing it’s designed for), or my browser won’t get online (the ONE thing it’s designed for), and this is where ‘Mac’ comes in….complete with cape, goat-friendly lycra, and his own theme music. 
 
Is anyone else thinking the Ride Of The Valkyries?
 
So as I finished my lunch and left our guru to his meal I was reminded of the fact that the self checkout in Tesco overcharged me by 30p and it took 2 members of staff with keys and security overrides to fuss and fight before deciding to switch it off and on again.
 
End of line.