first saw this very intrusive and face-filling stupidity in San Diego a couple of years ago. It was a long, long session of running model trains all weekend with the La Mesa club. While the rest of the boys hung out at the hotel, I went out into the night to find a gas station so we could return the rental full the next morning. Found a place, got out, activated the pump, and stood in shock when its screen started playing commercials at me.
I hate this sort of fuckery when it’s done in airports. It’s bad enough to sit in a seat waiting for a flight for two hours, watching a twenty-minute soundbite loop. But when you are stuck at the pump for two minutes, they have to chop down their content to the most concentrated simplicity, making my head ache with their gushing micro-reviews of the latest elements of consumer culture. And I’m stuck there, hand on the pump nozzle, trying to keep from looking at this horror of anti-humanity like Odysseus lashed to the mast.
So you can imagine my sarcastic delight two years ago when I stopped in at my local shell station (whose fuel I have been sucking for years) only to discover that they had upgraded their pumps into a home entertainment center, with speakers and a screen and a projection of gushing vidiotic crap, straight into my eyes and ears.
I did what I could. The station is on a busy downtown corner and there’s always something going on in that crazy place. I took to stopping forward at the pump, of stretching the hose forward and learning how to fill with my left hand, leaning against the driver’s door as far away (and out of direct view) of that mesmerizing screen. Or I’d lean on the roof and face the other direction, watching kids tear around a school yard. Or look up and watch Florida clouds drift through a webbing of power lines. Anything not to watch that moronic video throb of lifestyle choices.
I’m happy to report that, possibly, the station operators noticed my obvious eyeballic avoidance with their televised daydream. Or maybe the cost did not show any consumer gains. Or maybe people just bitched. But the other week I went to fill the mini and was greeted with a relaxing silence and a gallons-pumped/dollars-removed display. Holding the nozzle into my gas-sipper, I just leaned back against the side panel with a big, triumphant smile.
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P.S. Full disclosure – I’m blogging this from the waiting area of my dealer, where said mini is getting a summer checkup and ringworm treatment. There is a big TV in the waiting room showing one of those turd-wrenching shows about family expansion and home demolition. I am sneering and grimacing, in turn.