Pump-your-own rule fuels another transplant's fury
People hate it when you tell them that such and such is possible in California but not in Oregon. I’m talking about not being able to pump your own gas. There isn’t another state that I’ve been to where you can’t pump your own gas except in Oregon. It drives me bonkers. I’ve even seen some guy from California try to fill up his car by himself (God forbid) only to get a reprimanded by the attendant. What gives with this insanity?
— Brian T., Medford
On the other hand, Brian, just imagine how much more it would cost to update your vehicle registration in California. Now that’s insanity.
For newbies to the great state of Oregon, pumping gas and buying booze at liquor stores are irksome, almost un-American.
But many Californians who’ve lived here for a while and have gotten used to our strange customs have noticed one benefit from letting someone else pump their gas. You no longer have that horrid smell of gas on your hand after you’re finished, and you no longer have to put up with that other guy’s lingering aftershave left on the handle.
But maybe you like the smell, Brian. Hey, it’s your business.
There’s a law on the books that dates to 1951 that prevents you from filling up, and it hearkens to a time when most states required an attendant to deal with the fiddly process back then of filling up your vehicle.
Oregon has been slowly loosening these restrictions and now allows self service in rural counties. Also, if you’re really jonesing to handle a pump in Oregon, you can stop at the casino in Canyonville. Tribal lands don’t have to follow the Oregon law. Also it’s OK to pump diesel by yourself. Go figure.
There have been polls that show many Oregonians like having someone else pump their gas. During our cold winter months, who wants to get out of the car and wrestle with the hose and handle while the wind is blowing and the rain is coming down?
Also, some people point out that hiring people to pump gas provides jobs in Oregon.
Anyway, Brian, every time you get annoyed that you can’t man the pump, think about how much it costs to get your car registered or your driver’s license renewed back in California.
Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to email@example.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.