The other day I happened to mention that it’s illegal in Oregon, where I live, to pump your own gas. This was inconceivable to a few people, seeing as how it’s a law that, you know, makes no sense and protects nobody from anything. This was compounded when I explained that it’s illegal to pump your own gas in a car, but if it’s a motorcycle it’s illegal not to pump your own gas. I know. Oregon.
I don’t actually know what the punishment is for breaking this law. I’ve never been warned of someone being on a state-wide self-serving spree.
It occurred to me that it might be useful to explain our gasoline laws in a little more detail, as a public service to those who might find themselves this way, or if perhaps you’re in the market to overthrow your government and want to make self-serve gasoline illegal under your rule as tin-pot dictator. Either way, hope it helps.
Passenger cars and motorcycles I covered, so let’s continue from there.
Diesel vehicles: An attendant must pour the fuel in to a bucket, which the vehicle owner must then pour in to another bucket, which a second attendant must then pour in to the tank.
Hybrid vehicles: Half the tank is self-serve, the other half of the tank must be filled by an attendant.
VW’s, pre-1980 only: Vehicles can only be filled by someone who has attended at least 2 Grateful Dead concerts. (This is Oregon, though, so that’s not too tough)
RV’s & campers: Self-serve is allowed on days in which any two of the following conditions are met: odd-numbered days; days when the moon is waning; there are no new episodes of Breaking Bad airing; the forecast calls for less than a 70% chance of rain in the next 5 days; it’s not a leap year; the tide is in. Self-serve when 0, 1, or 3 of these conditions is met results in jail time.
Boats: Self-serve is allowed, but the owner must stand at least 10 feet away, and shoot the fuel toward the boat.
Electric cars: Self-charging is permitted, provided the charger can simultaneously re-charge, and righteously, loudly proclaim that their car is electric and not using any gas at all.
Taxi cabs: Vehicles can only be filled by someone else at the gas station who is not an employee.
Refilling propane tanks: Tanks can be self-fill, but regardless, the one running the pump must loudly sing rock songs with propane-oriented lyrics comically inserted into the song while filling. The dept. of Transportation recommends classic songs such as Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” (“When you want to get down/ down to the ground/ propane…”), Pink Floyd’s “Money” (“Propane!/ It’s a gas…), or – for fans of more modern music – selections from bands like The White Stripes are an option (“I been thinkin’ about my propane/ when you gonna fill it?/when you gonna fill it?”).
Giant, jacked-up trucks that have no practical use, get terrible mileage and have those over-sized tires: Tanks can only be filled by a licensed therapist, with whom you must spend at least 30 minutes discussing your need to drive such a vehicle.
Those motorized skateboards that run on lawn-mower engines and don’t have mufflers: Must be filled by an attendant, who must glare at you hatefully the entire time.
Blimps: Self-serve only. Up to 5 helium hits are permitted, but Mickey Mouse impressions a strictly prohibited.
Hover Cars (we’re a forward-thinking state): Re-ionization permitted by vehicle owner, or by a certified cyborg/robot.
See? Simple! And welcome to Oregon!