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May 27, 2004


I’m starting my own personal boycott today. I doubt it will do much, as I’m choosing to boycott a local gas station that was just remodeled to accommodate the freakishly large motor homes and trailers (containing various off-road vehicles) that travel through my hometown on their way out to the desert quite frequently. However, I will be steadfast in my avoidance of my local MOBIL (that’s right—I’m not afraid to name names!).

I’m boycotting said gas station for their refusal to adhere to California law. This law, which I never knew about before today, will be the basis for my boycott. My adventures with low tire pressure this morning will help to better emphasize why this law is, suddenly, so important to me.

I was running late this morning, as usual. But I was also driving the truck to work today, which is rather unusual. I managed to make it outside of the house by 8:15 (15 minutes behind schedule), and noted that at least three of the four truck tires seemed to be resting a little low to the ground (don’t blame me—I already said I don’t usually drive the truck, ahem). Naively, I thought I would simply stop by my favorite gas station, located a few blocks away, and be wheeling along with full tires again in no time. I was so wrong.

Favorite gas station did have an air pump-thingy (no idea what the technical term is), but the air hose had been ripped out. No problem, I thought, I’ll just swing by the local Exxon station just a few blocks farther away (24 minutes behind schedule). I made my way to the local Exxon, to find it suddenly “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”. No access to air and water. I struggled to maintain my composure, and decided to visit the fancy-schmancy, newly redesigned (and very expensive) gas station on my way out of town (31 minutes behind schedule).

I arrived at the shiny new gas station and located the air pump-thingy. A large sign reading “50¢ FOR AIR” made me realize I had no change on me. I also had no dollars on me. Upon closer inspection, a very small sign could be seen reading, "CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES THIS STATION TO PROVIDE FREE AIR AND WATER FOR AUTOMOTIVE PURPOSES TO ITS CUSTOMERS WHO PURCHASE MOTOR VEHICLE FUEL. IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT NOTIFY THE STATION ATTENDANT AND/OR CALL THIS TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE NUMBER: 1 (800) ___ ____." I backed the truck away from the air pump-thingy, and reached into my wallet for my handy debit card—and found that I had left it at home. No problem. $2.00 in gas at our current credit card finance charge rate should only work out to $87 or so once we finished paying for it. I fueled up with $2.02 (less than a gallon of gas!!!) and moved my car, once again, to the air pump-thingy (33 minutes behind schedule), and ran into the mini-mart, waving my gas receipt like a banner.

Hopes were dashed moments later during the following conversation with the gas station attendent:

Me: Can you please turn on the air?

She: No.

Me: Why?

She: We don’t have an automatic turn on. You have to pay 50¢.

Me: But, the law…

She: Yeah. The owner doesn’t care. You need to have 50¢.

Me: So I can call the number and file a formal complaint?

She: Yep.

Me: Motherfucker!

She: What?

Me: Nothing! (as I ran toward the door—35 minutes behind schedule).

As I traveled the 24 miles to the next-closest gas station, two dollars and two cents poorer and still wasting valuable dollars driving on poorly inflated tires, I contemplated my next step. How late was I willing to be just for the sake of 18 lbs. (combined) of air?

Apparently, quite a bit later. I pulled into the first gas station (Chevron, for those of you keeping track), and found (FINALLY!) truly FREE air! No purchase required. I pulled up (53 minutes behind schedule) and leaped out, ready to pump air like a madwoman, and found that this particular air pump-thingy was lacking any sort of tire pressure gauge. If you’ve ever pumped air into your tires before, you know that air without a gauge is totally useless. Undaunted, I ran to the mini-mart and purchased (again with the credit card) a $3.00(!!!) tire pressure gauge, muttering under my breath about evil gas stations not adhering to the free air law (and getting weird looks from other gas station customers). I returned to the truck (57 minutes behind schedule), and triumphantly FILLED THE TIRES TO THE PROPER TIRE INFLATION RECOMMENDED FOR MY VEHICLE!

I had finally done it. And I was only one hour and 18 minutes late for work. Goddamn Mobil motherfuckers.

Look for me this weekend. I'll be the one marching back and forth with "BOYCOTT MOBIL" sign.

Posted by Ensie at May 27, 2004 09:07 PM


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