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Illinois gas station attendant law

 
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Arrrgghh!

I really don’t want this thread to be anything vitriolic or about partisan politics but I just have to vent about a bill currently before Illinois congress.  A state representative from the Chicago area has proposed a law that would make illegal a person pumping their own gas.  If one is caught filling up one’s own tank, the fine starts at $500.

Illinois has some pretty dysfunctional politics and can’t pass a balanced budget to save their lives, but I feel like this particular bill has hit a new low.  Apparently the idea is to stimulate the creation of new jobs, but I fear the outcome.  I am willing to assume that the representative who proposed this bill meant well, but it illustrates the world of difference between the Chicago dominance in state politics and the rest of the state.

I am wondering just how many gas stations will close because they can’t hire attendants, how slow gas lines will be and how much gas will cost in order to pay for the artificially created jobs (though there might be a silver lining there, I still don’t think it is worth the dark cloud).

Anyone else think that this is crazy nonsense?

Aarrgghhh!!
 
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It's that way in Oregon. It boggles my mind why nearly every other state has adults capable of pumping there own gas and in Oregon it requires supervision.
 
Eric Hanson
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Robert,

I know New Jersey has this same practice. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the Oregon law change in 2018?  The only reason I know is because there is a lot of comparisons being made between Illinois and Oregon & New Jersey.

But you are right, why can’t a responsible adult pump his own gas?  Maybe this makes sense in Chicago, but it actually harmful to rural areas.

Eric
 
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Scanning ones own milk at the grocery store is okay. But a gas station sounds like a national security risk. What if they catch the place on fire. Maybe that same argument can be used to prevent people from driving their own vehicle. In all seriousness, I think the law is silly. We have all been doing self-serve for so long, and we shouldn't try and turn back the hands of time.  
 
Robert Ray
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There was a change for rural areas as I remember from the 2018 change. I don't live in town but my closest town has a population of 1500 and it hasn't changed there.
 
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From what i have seen in BC and in MB.

There are a few options:
-Some of the places offer full service which means someone comes out and fuels your car for you and will clean your windows, maybe even check the oil if you ask them to. Fuel may cost more here.

-Most of the stations are self serve, with the option to talk to the cash register person via a radio on the fuel pump.

- Some require you to pay ahead before you can start pumping your own fuel. so you need to go inside the store and say how much you want to buy.

I like you Eric are also quite surprised at the need for it to be illegal with a 500 dollar fine. However i have a hard time believing it to be something which makes the gas line long.
Most times at the fuel station you:
1) Tell the attendant how much fuel you would like
2) Than you go wait inside for them to finish
3) You tell the cashier what pump you are at
4) Than you pay for your fuel. It is faster as far as i can tell.

 
Eric Hanson
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S Bengi,

Believe it or not, gas station safety was mentioned as one of the reasons for this ridiculous bill.

Eric  
 
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When I drove through Oregon last year it was still in place. There's no delay, the person just scans your credit card at the pump and puts the pump handle in the car, then goes to anyone else who pulled up. Maybe adds 20 seconds total for them to walk over and back.

The far bigger impact that I felt, was trying to drive all-night through eastern Oregon without being able to stop almost anywhere to get gas. Only 1 spot on my route is open 24/7, and it's also in the middle of around 2 hours of no cell reception as well. Imagine the fun of running out of gas and having to walk 20+ miles with no cell service to a closed gas station, and wait for hours till they open! I now either have to plan my fueling around that one station or take the west coast route which turns the 1300 mile trip into around 1600 miles.

I wonder if the bill has more to do with curbing stolen gas events than adding minimum wage jobs.
 
Eric Hanson
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Mark,

If we go the other extreme, I am thinking about gas stations in Minnesota with no one on duty.  There is no cashier.  You scan your card, pump and drive away.

I am also afraid many stations, especially those in small towns or rural areas will simply close up.

Eric
 
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This is one of those things about the US that people elsewhere do not believe when you tell them (not that you can pump your own gas, but that it varies from place to place depending on state politics).

My family lives all over the Northeast and I can never for the life of me remember if I am in a pump-your-own or don`t-touch-that-pump state.
(similar to, "can I legally turn right on red in this state?" If you've been stuck behind me at the intersection, I apologize, I can never remember)

 
Eric Hanson
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Tereza,

Yep, I can completely understand that non-Americans can become confused about the overlapping jurisdictions in the United States.

I hear that football (not soccer) has a similar effect.  It is a terribly violent sport with concussions probably happening every game, and players regularly being hauled off the field for injuries.  Players are ensconced in armor and the game seems to be entirely about violent collisions.

But if you do much as touch a receiver before reception, that becomes a major penalty.

Go figure,

Eric
 
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Wow. I had not heard about the $500 penalty yet, but it does not surprise me. It's mind boggling to me the disconnect between Chicago region and the rest of the state. That gas tax hike drove people over state lines for gas enough as it is, just imagine what this will do. I know people from who live and work 30-45 minutes from the state line who will drive that distance to Missouri to get gas, and fill up enough fuel cans and truck tanks that they don't have to make the trip but once a month. It's that much of a price difference for them.

We have enough trouble in my town finding people to show up to work as it is, now you want me to hire someone who will run around the fuel island pumping gas for people when it's -5 F out? Or 95 F with 95% humidity in the summer? Crazy in my opinion.
 
Eric Hanson
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Caleb,

A little story about the disconnect between Chicago and the rest of the state.  From personal experience, I have found that people from Chicago and suburb region refer to everything outside of Chicago & suburbs as “downstate”, and that includes my wife’s hometown of Freeport which is actually farther north than Chicago.  Illinois is about 300 miles from north to south, a large area to be simply called “downstate”.

At any rate, as my wife (then fiancé) was in her final couple of months of medical school, the med school was helping her move for residency.  Basically they provided a list of movers and where/how far they would move.  So she contacted one that stated that they would deliver anywhere in the state, but not to Indiana (the border of which is only about 20 miles away.  But never mind).  

When she spoke to them and told them she needed her things delivered to Cambria (a small town next to Carbondale where I lived).  The movers said “oh, you mean south by Champaign.”  For those who don’t know, Champaign is about 200 miles north of Carbondale!  The movers said they could do it in about 2(!) hours.  My wife replied that it takes her almost six.  The movers accepted the deal and said they could get it done.

So fast forward to moving day and the movers showed up right at 4:00 like they said.  The driver got out, hunched over, rubbing his butt and exclaimed “I can’t believe we got to Mt Vernon (about 2 hours south of Champaign) and still weren’t there yet!” I explained to him that he still had over 45 minutes to go to exit Illinois.  He followed by saying “could I borrow your phone, my wife is in labor!”

I gave him the phone and I could hear him say repeatedly “I know, I’m sorry”.

I could not believe how fast they unloaded the truck and off they went.

A couple of points about this anecdote that stood out to me was the fact that they were told how long it would take—5.5-6 hours, but just assumed that it could be done in 2 hours.  Another point is that the movers were willing to drive anywhere in Illinois (6 hours one way), but not to Indiana which is about a half hour away.  I have had other similar experiences and I don’t want to just blatantly cast all Chicagoans in this negative light, but when interacting with people from Chicago and suburbs, this idea of “downstate” gets contorted to all points being south and lie within a 2 hour drive.

I think this little anecdote symbolizes the relationship that Chicago has with the rest of the state.

Eric

 
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Not being able to pump one's own gas is one of the things that we really dislike about Oregon. I'm hoping that with the large influx of people coming from states that allow pumping one's own gas, we can get the law changed.

The Oregon law that passed a few years ago, allows for some very limited exceptions, primarily related to the inability of some areas to get workers, as in very rural.

I find it strange that jobs are taken away, like toll takers, and then others are trying to be added like these gas station attendants. Why is one better than the other, especially when the toll takers slow things down, in a good way, so now they have to add metering lights, because everyone speeds through the toll plazas.
 
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talk about archaic new laws trying to create more jobs in the fossil fuel industry, our politicians in our country need to wake up and start passing laws to promote green types of energy and to phase out the fossil fuels that are destroying our planet. that's right, this is our country, our world and it need to saved from the greediest  money grubbing planet destroying fossil fuel industry. its about time we take our country back from these short sighted industrialists and their political minions. we need to put in place politicians that want to preserve and save the planet for future generations, enough destruction has taken place in the past 150 years. enough is enough already.
just had to get that out and share with you all.
 
Eric Hanson
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Bruce, everyone,

I share your frustration.  However I think the state representative who proposed this law was not directly or otherwise linked to the petroleum industry.

Rather than this issue being about the influence of the petroleum industry, I see this as an example of how the highly urbanized area in and around Chicago wield an outsized influence over the rest of the state, an area with which they (meaning Chicago area politicians) aren’t familiar and don’t comprehend.  

The message in my anecdote was meant to convey how Chicago (politicians) see the state through their unique lens and expect certain realities (such as the distance to Southern Illinois, the impact of banning self pumping) to conform to their expectations despite the obvious (one can’t drive 300 miles in 2 hours)

This issue is not unique to Illinois.  I am certain something similar happens in New York State where NYC and upstate NY have a similar issue.  Surely there are numerous other examples.

Curiously, St. Louis (the city) and the county of St. Louis had a spat several decades ago, and the solution was for them to be effectively divorced.  I have sometimes wondered if something similar could/should (sorry, I just shoulded) be done in Illinois with regards to the Chicago area and “downstate”.  I won’t pretend to know and appreciate the issues unique to Chicago the way a resident of Chicago does and I wish they would extend to me/my region the same courtesy.  Just for the record, I am not suggesting anything like “secession” from Illinois (though curiously there was a short lived secession movement in Southern Illinois about 20 years ago).

I really hope this bill does not pass, it may work for Chicago, but not elsewhere.

Eric

 
Caleb Mayfield
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Eric Hanson wrote:
This issue is not unique to Illinois.  I am certain something similar happens in New York State where NYC and upstate NY have a similar issue.  Surely there are numerous other examples.



Having grown up in western Illinois and lived in other large metropolitan areas at various times I've come to conclusion that once a certain population density is reached it needs to become something else. I have not fleshed out how that would exactly work out, but I think regions like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc. have reached a point where they are very disconnected from the rest of their state and yet hold so much sway over how the politics/laws in the rest of the state, and need to be separated in some manner so as to not utterly consume the resources of the rest of the state.
 
Eric Hanson
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Caleb,

I am finding myself largely in agreement with you—not only in concept, but also in the very metropolitan areas you mentioned.

You mention Western Illinois, occasionally called with backhanded affection as Forgotonia.  I have a slight, curious, tangential connection to your region.

When I was quite young, we had family friends that lived in Macome.  I was just old enough to remember traveling there.  That family then moved to Carbondale, where they still live and I traveled in and around Southern Illinois growing up (I grew up outside of Bloomington, IL.

I went to college to learn to fly and as fate would have it, the best and most affordable program was at Southern Illinois University, so there I went for college (I ended up changing my major to psychology).  Following graduation and not exactly certain what I was going to do, I ended up getting a job in retail management in Champaign.  That entry level position was supposed to be a 6-12 month program and a transfer somewhere was imminent.  Champaign was close enough to Bloomington that my parents let me live in my old room rent free till I got my first promotion.  But leaving Southern Illinois was painful as I loved the region.

I never got that promotion—I hated the job.  It sucked the marrow from my soul.  I spent countless hours doing minutia.  My dreams, which had always been colorful actually lost their color, looking like an old faded color picture from the 60s.  I quit and went back to college to earn a bachelors in history and my teaching credentials.  After graduating I searched for jobs, applied to 65 position, netted 3 interviews and they all said the same thing—you look great, but you have no experience (history jobs are hard to find and there are a lot of applicants for each position—the school I teach at once had 125 applications for one position and we just stopped taking new applicants).  Again, as fate would have it a 4th interview appeared at the last moment.  It was in Carbondale and was a psychology/history position, I had a bachelors in each and there was no time to interview anyone else.  I have lived here ever since.

I love Southern Illinois.  It is a beautiful, largely unknown region, somewhat similar to Western Illinois.  In fact it is so unique that it falls completely outside the cultural bounds of Chicago.  The Appalachian South has far more pull on the region than urbanized Chicago.  If it were colder and got more snow it would be perfect for me (I love snow and cold)

Caleb, I cannot say I know Western Illinois the way I know Southern Illinois, but I do know what it means to be outside the political center of gravity.  I think both Western and Southern (and for that matter my native Central Illinois) share that characteristic.  It would be an improvement in state politics if Chicago’s outsized influence could be curbed.

Eric
 
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Both in Denmark and in the UK no one under 40 can even remember a pump attendant. In the UK most stations are still manned with a shop, whereas here they are almost all completely unmanned, infact if you want to pay cash you'll have to know where to go to find one with a shop! As far as I can see there's a few consequences, the first is that there are a lot more stations here, despite there being a lot lower population densit, they can afford to stay open which is certainly nice. Of course on the flip side instead of 3 or 4 employees per station it's 10 stations per employee.

But I can assure your politicians that we do not suddenly blow up or set fire to ourselves when pumping our own fuel!


And this will not be anything to do with the petrol companies, in fact the opposite they are likely to campaign against it, employees cost money getting your customers to do the work is free.
 
Eric Hanson
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Skandi, you are absolutely correct, you won’t blow up in a huge fireball from filling your own tank!

Eric
 
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I'm sorry, Eric. :(

I live in Oregon and it *definitely* adds time to the wait because I can't pump my own gas. I hate having to sit regularly for three or four minutes before they even get started, especially when I'm in a hurry.  I know a lot of Oregonians love it because of staying in their cars in the rain, and those who don't leave the state don't know how to pump their own gas. I grew up here and had to learn in my twenties for my first road trip.

Some workers do have serious hustle. I went to the same station a lot in Portland and the guys there were great. It only took forever when they were busy and it wouldn't have been a lot faster if I had done it myself.

On the other hand, the smaller town I live in now doesn't have as many options. The best price is at a station with a new employee who is VERY large and slow moving.  I was just there today. I am always torn between annoyance at the time it takes him to move between cars and serious worry for him and his health.

The other concerns raised are valid too. You can end up in towns after hours with no ability to fill up. And if you're leaving town early in the morning, you better fill up the night before...

I love road trips out of state and always fill up at the casino in eastern Oregon to make the trip back to the coast. It was great to discover that law didn't apply to them! :)

I keep hoping it will show up on the ballot again and this time the majority will agree with me.
 
Eric Hanson
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Sonja,

Everything you mentioned is exactly what concerns me.

Eric
 
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Sonja - I completely agree. Fortunately, the town I live in is a major thoroughfare, even though it's small, population 3,000. Being on Crater Lake Highway, we have three gas stations, but they are pokey. Especially, if people want propane fill-ups, it's the same person that does everything. Things down in Medford aren't better, unless you want to pay a premium. It's a silly law. I am hopeful that we can get it changed.
 
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Hi Eric,

Having grown up when we could not pump our own gas, I don't find this too shocking.  And, I seriously doubt if it will pass.
 
Eric Hanson
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John, I truly hope it does not pass, and I think you are correct about it’s prospects.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

I just checked and it looks like the bill failed.  Yay!

Eric
 
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Hi Eric

It is fairly common for politicians of both parties to submit a bill that has zero chance of being passed to appease a local situation.

There is another possibility that would be common to probably all states.  From time to time you hear about a politician voting against their own  bill.  There are multiple reasons. Here is one.  Once I had a 1:1 breakfast with a state rep.  Dont get too impressed. It only happened once. Anyway, he told me about the first time he submitted a bill.  The bill had to be sent to the congressional secretarial pool to be put into the correct format.  When the bill was read on the floor on the House,  he didn't recognize it.  The staff had so "corrected" his spelling and grammar as to change the entire meaning of the bill.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

Funny story!

My concern was that I heard some scuttlebutt that the bill was gaining, not losing momentum.  I am extremely relieved that my source was unreliable.

Eric
 
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Hi Eriic,

I thought I was the last person on earth who knew what Forgotonia was.
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Skandi, you are absolutely correct, you won’t blow up in a huge fireball from filling your own tank!

Eric



Well maybe, since I worked at a NJ gas station and someone actually drove in on fire asking for a fill up. The employee who put out the fire got in trouble, as when he took on the fire suddenly the entire company was now responsible.

That said I do think mandatory pumping gas makes stupid consumers who can't pump their own gas.

It should also be said that the reason for gas station do this is to off set gas prices. In NJ and OR the price would be super low if they didn't pay people to pump. Thus everyone out of state would go across state lines to fill up.
 
Eric Hanson
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Devin,

Fair enough.  And at the moment Illinois has some of the highest priced and most heavily taxed gas in the lower 48 states.  Trucker regularly fill up on one border of Illinois so they can cross over the state to avoid paying expensive Illinois fuel.

Mostly I was concerned about how my regular gas station where I fill up was going to crawl to a halt on even slightly busy days when they were understaffed.

Eric
 
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