Tips for Success for Full-Service Gas Station Attendants We Have Left
Remember where you were when you saw the very first Texaco television commercial? You know what I am talking about. The commercial with the five guys in matching uniforms running (not sidling) to a customer's car tending to every need at one time. One guy cleaning the windshield while the other men, all smiling, checked the oil, water, battery, air and tire pressure, and filling the automobile with gasoline while the customer sat and shined a huge smile. Those, my friends, were the days.
For the young people who I hope are reading this, these stations were called "Filling Stations." And the guys who ran them meant to do the very best job possible with each customer who rolled in and made that little bell ring. Later, these same full-service filling stations added rotating tires, changing oil, and other light mechanical work to add to their already full-service image.
In the television ads, viewers didn't see the station-owner's fishing buddies "loafing" inside and outside sitting on a wooden soda pop case telling fishing lies. We only saw "this" image on shows like "The Andy Griffith Show," where Andy would take the squad car down to "Wally's" to get the car filled-up with gas while "Gomer" or "Goober" Pyle told various yarns and gave Andy free bottles of "pop."
There is a glitch for you. If "Mayberry," was the hometown of Andy and the "Pyle" cousins, does it not stand to reason that the soda's should be called "cold DRANKS," by the townspeople? "Pop," was only used in the northern territory of the United States.
"Wally's": what a great memory
But the fact is, "Wally's" with it's seldom-seen owner, was in every way, a full-service gas station. Hoo-ray for "Wally's." My dad, when I was a kid, hated full-service gas stations. My mom never offered to share her opinion either way. She was just glad to get out of the house. My dad drove the first nail into the "old school," and he was the only man who could take care of the family automobile. That included the small-but-important tasks that the early filling-stations gave each customer. I remember when the guy at the full-service station washed our windshield, my dad would be such a stickler for details--as his right index finger would point-out minute' specks and spots the poor guy had missed.
When my senior year rolled around in 1972, I worked in a small rural gas station where "I" was 'the" full-service to our customers. I had this older man and his wife who were both overbearing. They would stop in every two weeks for a tank of gas and a windshield wash. As soon as I would wet this guy's windshield, his right hand would start inspecting what spots I had missed by pointing from one spot to the next. All he needed was a white glove. What a crummy way to impress your wife. So on this one visit I washed his windshield over three times in a row. The old geezer never did say thanks for extra service. And at this time of my one-year career, I just didn't care.
At least by enduring this pointless treatment, I did get two-needed units that I needed to graduate from high school.
I have one confession
I admit it here and now. In the summer of '72 when the college girls (who attended Phil Campbell Junior College about an hour north of the rural station where I worked), would stop by for gasoline, I would literally run to wash their windshields just to get a glimpse of their pretty legs almost covered by a mini-skirt. This was "the" highlight of my gas-pumping career.
As my way of paying tribute, and giving some valuable tips to all of the men and girls who worked "back in the day" for full-service gas stations, I am giving you these career-saving and advancing
Tips for Success for Full-Service Gas Station Attendants We Have Left
- Never run to a customer's car with your zipper open. I am all for sending secret subliminal messages to pretty girls, but not with your fly open. If the customer points it out to you, do not "zip up" while they are looking. Turn away, then fix it.
- Never greet a customer while you are in the middle of a Sloppy Joe's burger you have for lunch. The odds of you having tomato sauce on your chin are high. And some customers still love a gas station attendant who cares for his appearance.
- Never stop to tell a nasty joke to a buddy who drives-up to your station while you are in the midst of pumping gas or checking a customer's oil with their window run down. If the customer is a sophisticated, well-bred female socialite, you can say farewell to her future business if she hears you joke about three farmers and a female fertilizer salesperson.
- Always use professional courtesy in speaking to customers. Words like, "Yeah," "Huh?" and "Howdy," will not go over well. A briskly-spoken, "Yes,sir," "Yes, ma'am," or "Right away," will always go further with your gas station career. I promise.
- Never greet a customer with a cigarette in your mouth. Figure this out. A burning cigarette and gas fumes from the car's tank equals what? Does the word, "Boom," help any? And do not greet customers with a chew of tobacco in your jaw. It gives off the vibe that you are only there to make a buck.
- Never fall asleep while filling a car or truck up with gasoline. Go to bed at a reasonable time so you will be sharp the next day.
- Always answer the most-useless questions asked by customers with gusto for they really do not know that much about automotive-related things. Example: "Sir, is that conraption called a dipstick?" YOU: "No, mac. The dipstick is you!" This was the stupid way of answering. Now the professional way of answering: "Yes, sir. That is the dipstick, one of the most-important pieces of equipment on a car or truck. It measures the amount of oil you have or do not have. Here. Let me show you." Talk about an impressed customer. Count them as a loyal patron from them on.
- Never let a phone call on your cell phone get between the customer and your business. If a man or woman pulls in for service and you just stick your finger at them as your way of saying, "I need to take this," and the call lasts for over ten minutes, the customer is gone and who can blame them?
- Never take a soda with you to take care of the customer. You might spill the soda on the customer and he will be angry enough to sue you. So leave your soda sitting inside the station. And wipe your mouth before you greet the customer. No customer wants to talk to a gas station attendant with blue teeth.
- Never and I do mean never make inappropriate movements toward female customers in or outside their cars. That is if you want them to give you return business. A tip of your hat might be something cool that the girl would tell her friends about. Old-fashioned respect. Who would have thought it?
- Impressions of Sponge Bob, Popeye and Marlon Brando are not meant for serving your customers. Especially when they are trying hard to get you to listen to them.
- Handing each customer an 8 x 10 glossy of you signed, "Best Wishes! "D.W." is not recommended to build business. But it is a great way to get yourself laughed at.
- If you are a footbal fan, do not get down in a three-point stance and "charge" the customer's vehicle. The customer might think you do not have any sense at all and leave.
- Never say, "Watch this," to the customer and begin to do ballet from Swan Lake right there in your gas pump area. Yes, the customer will be amazed at you attemping to do ballet when you have not had the first ballet lesson which is obvious with the many falls you have taken on the ground.
- Do not do any juggling, sword-swallowing, fire-eating or any circus acts while changing the customer's oil and rotating his tires.
- Never say things like: "Hey, "L.D." (on the cell phone) I see some shiny new wheelcovers on this car that I am working on to fence for us some cash," while the customer is listening to you.
- Do not greet any customer with a firearm in sight. This will scare them away. Or how you answer their question: "Have a lot of robberies here?" You reply, "All the time, sir." He will immediately pay you and never come back.
- Watch your mouth if a newlywed couple stop with you immediately after they are married and to break the ice you say, "Hey, what a gorgeous chick you married. Whattya know? I dated her a long time a few years ago and I had to dump her for her clingy ways." Can you say, fist in the eye?
- If you love alcohol and drinking, PLEASE do not do either on the job. This would be THE lowest thing a gas station attendant could do besides forcing a female customer to dance the waltz with you while you are intoxicated and being filmed by people with cell phone cameras to post you and the woman on YouTube. The film with you in it is called: "Stupidity Goes Viral."
- Never talk about the customer to a buddy who goes into your station to drink sodas and loaf. Example: YOUR BUDDY: "What ya' doing there, looking like you are working?" YOU: "Yeahhh, this old geezer don't know what I'm doing. Haw, haw. I am acting like I am installing a fake car product called a "Oil Friction Meter" and charging this dunce $300.00. Not a bad hour's work."
- Never just ogle and stare (with red eyes from being hung-over) at a pretty girl customer. She will become edgy and report you to the police. You got to be careful when you are an important man like a gas station attendant.
- Never go into the ladies' restroom while there is a lady inside. You will land your butt in jail and even your "Get out of jail" excuse will not work: "Sorry, ma'am. I didn't mean to barge in here, but we are under an emergency warning I just got from our County Nuclear Power Manager who wants us all to get to a safe place. Sorry again. You best get on the road."