Kid safety and why I only bought $0.33 of gas

images-9.jpgBackground: I used to buy gas any place I could find it. I had my favourite little gas stops, run by nice older men who always asked if the oil needed checking. I hated self-serve unless I was dressed well, and if I was dressed well, did I want to smell like gasoline and motor oil? You get the picture. I was a brand mustang—no allegiance to any company.

New realization: Shell does Airmiles. Airmiles is how I give the kids gift cards at Christmas—GAP, SportChek, Chapters, Pier One. It’s the only form of painless Christmas spending I know (other that Shoppers Drugmart points).

New spending pattern: It’s Shell for us all the way.

On with the post: I pull into Shell with Graydon and Luka in the car. I’m modelling do-it-yourself behaviour, and leap from the car to fill up, check the oil myself and let Luka do the windows. I also let Luka swipe the credit card and the Airmiles card. I get a little rumble from the gas nozzle, then nothing. I push the gas selection button again and pump. Nothing. I look over to the guy at the cash desk, whose voice comes crackling WAY TOO LOUD over an intercom. “WAA-WAWA-NYAH-WAA-NYAHNHYAAA-WAA.” I waved, smiled, and tried again. No gas. “WAA-WAWA-NYAH-WAA-NYAHNHYAAA-WAA,” from the loudspeaker. I smile again, point to my ear, shake my head, and point to the pump. He lets a louder “WAA-WAWA-NYAH!” go and I cancel the transaction, do the cards thing again, Luka watching with great interest, Graydon too, as I press the gas selector and place the nozzle and no gas comes out. Luka does hand me the receipt for the $0.33 of gas I did get the first time.

Mummy is getting steamedimpatient. Mummy takes her receipt and marcheswalks to the cashier.

“Is there a problem?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says, “your kid.”

“My kid?”

“Yes. No kids can pump gas.”

“My son wasn’t pumping gas. In fact, no one was pumping gas—there is no gas.”

“Yes, there is gas, I know. I shut it off. Here,” and he indicates the controls.

I felt my love affair with Shell hitting a brick wall.

He then pushes a piece of corporate puffery at me and says, “No kids at the pumps. No gas.”

I was pretty steamed now. No kids! My seven-year-old lives for swiping the cards and cleaning all the windows with the squeegee thing. He has done so since he was four. If Shell thinks Airmiles will keep me from letting my son help Mum gas-up, it has another corporate think coming.

I left the pamphlet on the counter, kept my mouth shut, smiled (I’ll bet it looked real pretty) and wheeled out the door. I told Luka to get in his seat, shut the door and put up the windows. I put in $10.00 of gas and fumed all the way home.

Cooler head prevailed: The next day I went to a different Shell station, went inside and found the same brochure in a rack at the cash. It says “Shell’s policy is that people operating gas pumps should be old enough to be responsible: We take the minimum age allowed for driving learner’s permits as a reasonable guideline.”

I had a nice chat with the operator, who said kids can still clean windows, just not pump gas, which, I stress, I only let Graydon start doing at age 14, and I would never let a seven year old.

So I’m OK with Shell. Because nothing is sweeter than the smiling face of my little guy making the windows clean just because he likes to help.

Works for Me Wednesday is tomorrow. Hint: It’s all about the laundry.

See you!

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One Response

  1. This is a PS to today’s posting and an answer to the question that is burning a hole in your brain: Graydon didn’t jump out to do the gas as he usually does (at the ripe age of 15) because sometimes the smell of gas gives him weird flashbacks to all the throwing up during chemo, and that’s a place he doesn’t want to go, and I don’t blame him. End of PS.

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