RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J.—People in New Jersey pick their own strawberries. They chop down their own Christmas trees. They check themselves in at airports and check themselves out at supermarkets. Lately, a few New Jerseyans have been wondering whether it isn’t about time they were allowed to pump their own gas.
Pumping your own gas is illegal in New Jersey. It has been for 61 years. It’s also illegal in Oregon, and in the New York town of Huntington, on Long Island. Just about everywhere else, self-serving Americans do it themselves. As paying at the pump gets easier, the gas station attendant is fast going the way of the elevator operator.
Don’t tell Will Corcoran. When you pull into Tim’s Westview, a Gulf station across from the train tracks in this north Jersey town, you’ll sit in your car while he fills your tank.
Under a cold rain one weekday, he stood at the driver’s window of a Chevy, bent over, yakking. He wore blue. His cap had Gulf Oil’s orange disk on it. After his customer signed the credit slip (Tim’s pumps don’t process cards), Mr. Corcoran, 42 years old, shook hands and saluted like a gas jockey in an old commercial.
“People come in for the love of talking,” he said as a van with New York plates rolled over the bell hose. At the wheel was Gilbert Grant, an anesthesiologist with a Bluetooth earpiece. “Now I have to wait for the attendant,” Dr. Grant said. “What a job.” After he drove off, Mr. Corcoran said, “Impatient. I sensed it.”
His boss, Tim Arata, is a 47-year-old mechanic with lots of patience. “I’m for full-service,” said Mr. Arata. He was in his repair shop, fixing a tire. Self-service, he figures, will let “big oil” into New Jersey to “put the Tim Aratas out of business.”
Did you know that?… if you live in NJ you did.