Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When buying gas didn't hurt.

Around 50 or so years ago, it was not a disagreeable experience to pull into a gas station for a fill-up.  You may think I am referring to the price of gasoline then but no.  After all, everything was less expensive than today.

No, I recall for your consideration that, as a rule, the following took place with every sale at the pump.  You did not have to leave your car.  You had already driven over an air hose which activated a bell inside to alert workers that a customer was at the pumps.  You were greeted at your car door and asked how much and what kind of gas you required.  While the gas was being pumped into your car's tank, the employee cleaned your front and rear windshields, and raised your hood to check the oil, water, and battery.  For FREE.  At sale conclusion you paid the employee money for the gas.  If you were due change from your payment, he walked it out to you and thanked you for your business.
Another curtesy available to any driver was to have the air in the tires checked.  For FREE, although a tip was usually proffered unless the driver decided to check tire pressure himself.
If a motorist was planning a trip, one could walk inside the station and find a display of road maps for a dozen or so states as well as a national highway map.  All maps were FREE.

Once upon a time (as they say in fairy tales) such courtesies described above were considered good business.  Retailers sought customers by being agreeable and offering advantages designed to cause customers to return.  This attitude was spread out through many business enterprises at that time.

In the 1970's things began to change.  Business people decided that America wasn't a society anymore.   We were an empire, a global mover and shaker.  All type of markets were available and huge profits could be had without the close attention to detail and customer satisfaction previously seen as important to the bottom line.  Accounting and marketing replaced the social and moral values of community enterprise.  The stockholder replaced the customer as the focus of attention.

Another feature that was lost in this change, albeit inadvertently, was the disappearance of jobs.  Many teenage boys found part-time work at gas stations where they earned money and learned responsibility.
Finally, please don't call this nostalgia.  We still have cars that need gas.  We still have stations to provide the gas.  There is no reason why the same curtesies and amenities we once enjoyed could not be reinstated today.

No comments:

Post a Comment