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The 10 Things I Loved About Being a Member of "I.J.O.A." (Island Jockey's of America)

Updated on March 27, 2016
Service with a smile.
Service with a smile. | Source
Gas station attendants were always eager to serve their customers.
Gas station attendants were always eager to serve their customers. | Source

My weekly pay at Collins Corner Grocery was the grand total of $20 bucks.

No worry of me growing greedy and loving money.

Time to confess

I want to share something with you that I, in my five years with HubPages, have never mentioned to you.

In my senior year, 1972, I worked half days as a gas station attendant. I did not do this for the money. I am telling you the truth. I worked from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday for fifty-cents per hour. Now do not freak here. Minimum wage was higher than what I was being paid, but I took a thing called "D.O.," (Diversified Occupation) in my senior year to gain the needed-two credits so I could graduate. The wage, fifty-cents an hour was in my agreement with the station owner, Mr. Don Collins and his sweet wife, Rubel.

By the way, Don is still with us in Hamilton, but Ruble passed away three years ago. I learned how to love these two people in that one year that I worked for them at their quaint-but-successful rural store they called, "Collins Corner Grocery," which was ten minutes from my home.

In some gas stations, pretty girls worked as gas station attendants to keep the gas station's business booming.
In some gas stations, pretty girls worked as gas station attendants to keep the gas station's business booming. | Source

Did you ever work as a gas station attendant?

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Thank you, Donnie

I owe my late cousin, Donnie Avery, a debt of gratitude for not griping about taking me to work everyday when our "D.O." class dismissed at 12 noon. Hey, we had half an hour to horse around, smoke a few cigarettes, talk about hot girls and just be teenage guys about to enter the real world.

Little did I realize the entire year of working as a gas station attendant at Collins Corner Grocery that I was being prepared for the "tough" life of earning a living, paying bills, and worrying about losing my job due to making too many mistakes. And you can bank on this, friends. A job as a gas station attendant will prepare you almost perfectly for life after high school graduation.

If I were as rude as the gas station attendant in this video, I would have been fired on the spot.

Even the billboards of their day used gas station attendants in the gas company's ads.
Even the billboards of their day used gas station attendants in the gas company's ads. | Source
This rusty' diesel pump served a lot of people in its day.
This rusty' diesel pump served a lot of people in its day. | Source
Vintage cartoon ad shows the simplicity of a gas station attendant's work.
Vintage cartoon ad shows the simplicity of a gas station attendant's work. | Source
America depended on gas station attendants.
America depended on gas station attendants. | Source
A gas station attendant was courteous, respectful, and helpful to his customers.
A gas station attendant was courteous, respectful, and helpful to his customers. | Source
Gas station attendants were even used to secure a place in a space age future.
Gas station attendants were even used to secure a place in a space age future. | Source
"Your oil is fine, ma'am."
"Your oil is fine, ma'am." | Source
A good gas station attendant had to have a  great sense of humor.
A good gas station attendant had to have a great sense of humor. | Source

I did more than pump gasoline

Not only did I serve customers on our three gas pumps, but kept the floors clean inside the store, stocked the shelves with grocery items that came in each week and generally, just be busy from the time I arrived until the time my dad picked me up. (I did not own a car during this time. Rats!)

But honestly speaking, of all the duties that were assigned to me, serving people's gasoline and oil needs on the outside of the store was my favorite task. And that is why I want to share with you . . .

The 10 Things I Loved About Being a Member of "I.J.O.A." (Island Jockey's of America)

10.) Knowing that with each customer I served on the gas pumps, I had helped them to get to their destination(s). That, friends, is a warm feeling.

9.) Pumping gas, checking oil, water, and tire pressures made me feel somewhat important although I was going on 18 years of age and feeling good about one's self is very important at age 18 for I was not quite a man and too mature to be a boy.

8.) I got to talk with other guys who pumped gas who took our D.O. Class. And what stories we would tell and get to hear. Some I can share someday and some are not suitable for mixed company.

7.) Getting to hear Don Collins, my boss and friend, tell me, "nice work today, Kenny," and just him thinking this made me feel nine feet tall.

6.) Looking for my buddies to drive up and let me pump them five bucks worth of gasoline. Probably the last five spot they had, but they made me look good with their patronage.

5.) One of my favorite customers was Mr. Leon Palmer, who lived in Hamilton and worked as a journeyman welder at Reynolds Aluminum, in Muscle Shoals, when their factory was going wide-open in 1972. He would drive up to the pumps, get out and say, "make yourself happy," as he walked inside the store for a drink and candy bar to enjoy on his way to work. The term, "make yourself happy," meant one thing: To fill up his green Plymouth. I will never forget Leon.

4.) The feeling of knowing that if I did a good job, I would get those two needed credits that I needed for graduation which was always in my thoughts. Sure, I was sad and happy at the same time. A chapter for me was ending and another one was beginning. No one ever gets past these feelings about graduation from high school or even college.

3.) Having the trust of two good people, Don and Ruble Collins, gave me a boost in my initiative to look for new ways to make the store look better and serve our customers better.

2.) Sometimes the soft drink truck drivers would hand-out free samples to my friends and I to keep their product's name on the lips of my friends and I, and Mr. and Mrs. Collins.

(I saved the Best for last).

1.) Enjoying the sight of the college girls (who had graduated a year prior to me) pulling in for a tank of gasoline. Oh, most of them wore short skirts and when me or any "Island Jockey" is washing a windshield, their pretty legs were a sight to behold. And oh, their hair was always in place and they wore a smile on their pretty faces.

After I left Collins Corner Grocery in early June, 1972, after I graduated with my classmates, I sometimes wondered where all of those pretty girls (with short skirts) got off to.

I never knew for sure where they went, but "this" I always knew: All of these pretty girl college student gas customers had THE cleanest windshields anywhere in the State of Alabama.

"Ahhh, good times."

These guys and gals really loved their jobs.
These guys and gals really loved their jobs. | Source

Comments

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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, vkwok,

      Aloha.

      Haven't heard from you in a long time. Hope you are well.

      How nice of you to leave this comment and its meaning. Sometimes I look back on my days at the pumps and smile. Especially when those junior college girls drive up for a tank of gas.

      Your Friend for Life,

      Kenneth

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      2 years ago from Hawaii

      Interesting article. It's too bad there's no more Island Jockeys anymore.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear MizBejabbers,

      What a LOVELY comment. I mean it. Your comments are books of pure love in a condensed form.

      I also loved the last paragraph about you having "purty legs." I do not doubt that.

      I always wondered what if I had been bold enough to actually pay one or two of these girls (in my day) a compliment of such topics as the beauty of their gams.

      But there again, they might have told Mr. Collins and I would not have graduated high school for being fired and . . .

      I am tired of linking one thought to the other.

      LOL.

      Write me again.

      Love You, Kenneth

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago

      I shore do miss those island jockeys cause I hate pumping my own gas. If it weren't for automatic windshield solvent dispensers, I'd probably have the dirtiest windshield in the South.

      Yeah, Kenneth, that was back when $10 would fill up car, including my friend's mama's Olds 88. Well, maybe not your day. If I remember correctly, the early 70s was when gasoline skyrocketed in price.

      We gals were lucky if we had a dollar to get home on. Back in my day (here she goes) even college students were not subject to minimum wage. I made 50 cents an hour. I think if I’d been paid minimum wage, I wouldn’t have had to drop out of college and finish years later. And these millennials think they have it bad!

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed your stint as a station attendant. Back then, I would have been a young mom pulling up to your station in a mini-skirt. I did have purty legs back then.

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