Things to avoid at a petrol station

Another article made by a friend has made some excellent points regarding his previous line of work and I commented that I should do the same for mine. Granted, petrol is more of a ‘getting bills paid’ job and not a ‘career’, but I think I could be a service to the thousands of petrol station attendents across the world if I could explain a few things which we would prefer you not to do while we serve you. Petrol attending is a funny business- its retail but you don’t ‘sell yourself’, it is for most people a neccessity but there is no compulsion on the customer’s part to abide by normal retail etiquette and it is a constantly varying product in price to the degree that customers for any singular petrol station become less like independently consciousness human beings and more like a reasonably predictable wave adhering to a simple economics. With the perculiarity of petrol service in mind, I feel that some of these issues are exclusive to the trade, while some probably have other retail-based roots.

Jamming your fuel cap in the pump’s handle

Petrol exclusive here. I see this roughly twenty times in a six hour shift and it doesn’t get any more intelligent the more it’s done. The act certainly makes the petrol pump in your car while you can wash the windows or go to the bathroom or whatever, but you’re missing a fundamental here- you are pumping a highly flammable and explosive substance into your vechicle without supervision in an area with well over 50,000 litres of highly flammable and explosive substance around you. I don’t care how safe the pumps are thesedays with cut-off mechanisms and so on, the pump could fall to the ground and continue or whatever, and don’t rely on the attendent to monitor the damn car either as we have our hands full with other customers and running the store, hell we may not even see you at some pumps. I personally make exception to the people who sit there next to the nozzle, as I could concievably appreciate if you had a hand injury, arthritis or just a bit slender where holding the handle down could be uncomfortable, but walking away from the thing is just idiocy.

Moaning that your card doesn’t work

In relation to fuel cards, Caltex and Woolworths accept Starcards, Starcash and Motorpass and nothing else. It is clearly mentioned on the pumps, on the brochures at the counter and other areas. If your card doesn’t work then it is not Caltex’s fault and it is certainly not mine so please grin, bare it, pay some other way and ask for a second receipt to give to your employer.

Walking away to get something else as you are being served

I haven’t seen this at other retail businesses, but it happens about once every six customers, usually with an amassing queue. Forgetting something to buy and wandering off would be forgiveable if only you were sincere enough to bother remembering it in the first place. Even worse are the customers who’ll wait in the queue and then at the counter buzz of to grab heaps of things but putting down a chocolate bar or some equivalent akin to “saving the space” in front of the rest of the queue. In this instance I’ll void the reciept for the chocolate bar, put it to one side and continue serving but lo and behold the number of times I’ve had customers bully ahead again- it’s rude and you should know better.

Asking if a petrol service station is a bottle shop

No really. This has happened to me about five times. Have you ever seen a petrol station serve alcohol? Tonight was especially bizzare, as someone called up the store to inquire! Our number is just on the receipt, which means they must have been to the store, which means they must know that we don’t serve alcohol.

You’re horribly drunk and proud of it

Inebriated customers, especially at night counter service (that is, no shop access but I’ll get shop products if you want) are inestimably frustrating. Keep it to yourself if you could please, because either a) you’re drunk and I’m working late saturday at a petrol station so I’m annoyed I’m missing out on potential frivolity or b) you’re incredibly unfunny and holding up the line. If you are drunk, that’s totally fine but I’d prefer it if you didn’t shout it to the world. Don’t drive your car if you’re pissed either.

You light a ciggarette

Underneath your feet is 50 000 litres of specifically designed explosive liquid whose vapours can ignite with a single spark and you’re striking up a B & H blue. Smoking kills, in this case far more quickly than expected. Has happened to me personally about ten times, mostly by inebriated party goers.

Blaming me personally for fuel costs

Or at least the store in general. I literally had a person suggest to me it would be a great idea if “you lowered the price down to like 40 cents a litre, that way you would get everyone buying your petrol” that, my dear customer, and put us thousands of dollars in the red from selling petrol at a fraction of the price we buy it. In any case a chain of stores like the one I work in simply recieves a message from HQ telling us to change the fuel price to a particular figure. We have no bearing on what that price is, and we have no part in the decision making process. If you need more evidence that I’m not personally making a profit, please cast your gaze to my small, rusting car with distinct lack of ‘bling’, ‘spinnerz’ or indeed ‘bitches’.

Hiding your PIN number

Ok I freely appreciate that bank security is a fine thing to have, and in some ways I appreciate you don’t know me and I could be a theif or whatever. But the chances are slim and the premise ludicrous. Any attendent deals with thousands of numbers per shift, and usually you’ll press the number so quickly I have no hope of seeing them even if I tried. Then I would have to actually get your card somehow in order to use that. And you would have to not realise your card was lost and summarily not report it missing. Then I would have to avoid getting my face on camera as I greedily withdrew all your money irrespective of the fact I work in a paying job and stealing a max of about $500 with an incredibly high chance of getting caught would be a very dumb thing for me to consider, let alone pull off. Please don’t treat me like a crook.

Moan about shop prices

Another thing I have zero control over, and another thing managed by head office.

Using my name and/or talking to me like some divine favor

My name badge is a part of the uniform and display purposes on me, it serves no inherent function beyond the fact that even if I was a mindless automaton, I have a very human name-like serial number. Please do not address me by my name, its inherently creepy having several people who you don’t know refer to you that way. Would you like me to start calling you by your name? I had one guy who did refer to me by my name, and I returned the favor as he worked for a different company and also had his name badge on. Let me tell you he was dead quiet after the first time I reciprocated. It’s generally unpleasant and I’m more than happy not to be referred to at all even if we are having a small conversation. In addition, handing me some tract or trying to chuck me in a pyramid scheme won’t go over well either. Thinking that you are some inherently hilarious and popular person and/or in some way superior to the admittedly probably quite tired looking attendent in front of you is likely to make you undesirable to that person and summarily a great deal of people who that attendent informs them of what a wanker you are. I have no concern with people treating me like a person, but like anyone I would imagine, if it is like I am somehow lesser or derided I see no reason why I should accept that.


Ok that’s my vent after a really bad shift, and I’m sure they’ll be something else later. Ciao and thanks for reading 🙂

~ by freeze43 on October 19, 2008.

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