Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Art of the Petrol Station

Some of you will be familiar with the 'Superlatives' application on Facebook, in which you nominate friends who are most likely to do certain things. Last week I was a little taken aback to be voted 'Most likely to have a blonde moment' by my good friend Emma. On enquiring further as to the existence of any reason for casting such an aspersion upon my otherwise gleaming character, I received the two-word explanation: 'petrol stations'.

It is true that me putting petrol in my car does not tend to lead to moments of glory. This is, indeed, a skill in which I can safely be said to be 'well below average'. But it's just that they make it so darned complicated. So many things to remember: drive up to pump, get out of car, remove petrol cap, put hose thing in petrol thing, check meter is 0, squeeze handle of hose thing, remove hose thing, put cap back on, go and pay. And all have to be executed in precisely the right order, and with a level of precision that I simply don't possess when driving. Some have additional constraints: for example, one does not simply drive up to the pump and stop - no, one must stop close enough to the pump for the hose thing to reach the car, and one must be on the right side of the pump to be able to get to the petrol cap with the hose (my discovery of this is a particularly epic tale, but one which I won't go into here).

So it was with some excitement that I read recently that a Swedish company has developed a petrol station for women. Now, I do not necessarily put my ineptitude in forecourts down to my gender; indeed it is true that I have never met anyone, male or female, who has as much lack of ability in this area as I do, so there is a strong possibility that it is just me. But if I go to a petrol station where only women are allowed, it at least reduces the potential viewing figures by 50%, which must be good.

So what makes this petrol station so good? Apparently the forecourts are orange and the pumps are curvy. I would have thought it would be better to make the pumps orange, because then they'd be easier to spot and you'd be less likely to drive into them, but at least if they are curved you wouldn't do so much damage to your car (I can feel Fifi screaming and trembling when I try to drive her into a petrol station). It also has a big shop that sells salads, and nice toilets (I mean the shops sells salads and the toilets are nice, not that the shop sells nice toilets as well as salads).

This is all well and good, but I think I could do better. What would help would be if they made the pumps into, like, your best friend. So when you're standing there trying to figure out why the hose thing won't go into the car (unfortunately this is also a true story), the pump will give you a nudge and whisper 'Hey! You forgot to take the petrol cap off!' and then you can have a bit of a giggle together and pretend that everyone does that all the time. Also if all attempts to put petrol in the car were shielded from other people's view by large curtains or some such, this would help with confidence levels.

For the truly epic, Smile-proof petrol experience though, I think I need one thing: someone to do it for me. I drive in, park wherever I will, hand the keys over to a cheerful, pleasant chap who is oily enough to look like he knows about cars, but not so dirty that he messes up the seats, I say how much petrol I want, I go in and pay, maybe browse some magazines, and then come out and my car is ready.

Now that, I would pay good money for.


Ems said...

Bravo!!!!!! Im am prod to be ur friend and that u are finally coming out of the closet with your petrol station "blonde moments"
many congratulations!
and remember - for goodness sake take me with you next time! :)
love you emxxxx

andrewg said...

You don't have to pay good money at all. You can come down South and buy your petrol cheaper here, and a friendly Lithuanian will do all the work for you, just like in your fevered daydreams.