Confusing Gasoline Laws Made Simple

July 24, 2012

Humor

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.

Sir? Is that a government approved bucket? I’m not having on my record that I used an unregistered bucket.

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.

“LET’S SEE… NOPE, STILL USING NO FOSSIL FUEL. PEW! WHAT’S THAT STINK? OH, SOMEONE PUTTING FILTHY, EARTH-KILLING GAS IN THEIR CAR. WELL, IT’S NOT ME.”

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?”).

“While I get the windows here, tell me about these feelings inferiority you experienced in middle school.”

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!

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Blog in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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78 Comments on “Confusing Gasoline Laws Made Simple”

  1. jcgator1 Says:

    Thank you got making my morning bus ride entertaining (laughing hysterically as passengers look at me wondering….I can’t blame em). However you left out one….two actually. Public transportation (bus) and diesel train engines….oh wait, also 18 wheelers. Are there laws for them?

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      18-Wheelers have to refuel from Diesel trains in motion, like those planes that fuel up other planes while in air. It’s more exciting that way.

      Diesel trains have to wait at the pumps, just like everyone else.

      Reply

  2. Life With The Top Down Says:

    Nearly spit the coffee out at the Giant Jacked Up Trucks requiring a therapist…hahaha! I would have to include people who drive Hummers outside of a war zone in that category.

    New Jersey has a similar system, but I don’t know if it’s an actual law and I don’t understand why it is a law in Oregon. However, whatever the case it does keep people employed and connected. We are quickly being replaced by self-serve everything, which disconnects us from each other and takes away employment for those folks who really don’t have skills for much more. Some days it just nice to pull up to a pump and hear “hey, what can I do for you today?”

    Reply

    • Go Jules Go Says:

      I feel compelled to research this for you. Love, Loud and Proud and Not Really Sure I Know HOW to Pump My Own Gas, Jersey Jules

      Reply

      • Don't Quote Lily Says:

        It seems quite a few of us are from Jersey! I actually can’t travel anywhere for fear of having to pump my own gas.

        And…still laughing out loud at the giant, jacked-up trucks inferiority issues. 😀

        Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I tried to track down the Daily Show segment on not being able to pump your own gas in Jersey, but couldn’t find it.

      And I think about half the time I end up at a “Hey, what can I do for you today?” gas station. The other half it’s a “Hm, is this guy coming over here to fill the tank, or carjack me?”

      Reply

      • Go Jules Go Says:

        Oh! I meant to look for that clip after I saw you mention it on the best post you’ve ever written. Can’t believe I never saw it, argh.

        I dread going to the gas station. I don’t think Oregon is like this; women here are vulture meat (“too much clothes” was a highlight). Last time they insisted my favorite color was teal because I was wearing a teal shirt and that I must be a secretary if I have a job (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but, you know what I mean). I try to keep the radio loud and stare at my phone. It’s very stressful, even though I don’t actually have to pump my own gas.

        Reply

  3. 1pointperspective Says:

    I lived in Oregon years ago, and now reside in New Jersey. We too are not allowed to pump our own gas, but the laws are simpler. Regardless of the vehicle type, drivers are required to comment to passengers about how “none of these damn gas jockeys can talk frickin’ English”. In the event that one is driving alone, they can opt to slip the gripe into the cell phone conversation they’re already having, or make the comment to the inflatable love doll who accompanies them strictly for car pool lane purposes.

    “Whaddya mean we don’t have frickin’ car-pool lanes in this part of the state??” He turns to Becky the love doll and exclaims “Do you believe this crap Becks? Dizz guy!! He’s a frickin’ regulah Don Rickles”

    Flipping a one finger salute, he’s gone in a puff of exhaust as Becky rolls her painted-on eyes.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I don’t know if this is universal, but attendants can refuse service until a person hangs up their phone. There’s, like, a 0.0001% chance of it causing an explosion. If I worked at a gas station I would utilize this power 100% of the time.

      Reply

      • 1pointperspective Says:

        Alas, you’ll need to speak English to make yourself understood. I saw that episode of Myth Busters where they tried to explode gas fumes with a cell phone, I think you may have missed a few zeroes in your number above. Finally, the guys who work at the stations are usually yabbering to persons unknown on their own cell phones the entire time they wait on you.

        On the other hand, whenever I visit my daughter in Pittsburgh, I will have to gas up a few times along the way there and back. I gotta tell you, it makes me feel so manly! Who needs fertility idols with self serve gas pumps. ARgghhhh!

        Reply

        • The Byronic Man Says:

          I hear you. It’s as if I’d fixed the engine. “Yeah. Tank was almost empty. I spotted it right away. Took ‘er in, filled up the tank. That got ‘er.” *satisfied sigh* Yep.”

          Reply

  4. Edward Hotspur Says:

    What about listening to Jumping Jack Flash?

    Reply

  5. wvfarm2u Says:

    I grew up in New Jersey and moved away after college. I bought a car then and the first time I needed to gas up didn’t know what to do. LOL

    Reply

  6. Go Jules Go Says:

    Hee hee I saw the comment thread where this idea was born – glad you ran with it – HILARIOUS! The perfect post idea. I was partial to the monster car reasoning m’self.

    Also? May I be the first to congratulate you on 2,000 followers, good sir! I feel a surprising lack of jealousy. I think I’ve grown since we first met.

    Reply

    • She's a Maineiac Says:

      I noticed the 2,000 followers, too! Not that I obsessively look at everyone’s blog stats or anything…(ahem) B Man almost has three times the followers I have! (I think…was never good at math…) But my point is: I am happy for him. He deserves every last one.

      Reply

      • pegoleg Says:

        Not me. I’m so torn up with jealousy I hate him, hate him, HATE HIM!!!. Oops, wait a sec, did I say that out loud? Congrats Mr. B!

        Reply

        • The Byronic Man Says:

          If it helps, someone un-followed thus dropping me back to 1999 – which deflated the momentum for a little “go out for dinner” celebration. WordPress should have made a little “Wah-wah-waaaahhh” sound when it happened.

          Reply

          • pegoleg Says:

            So the guy who accused you of spamming his email finally figured how to unsubscribe? His witty comments will be missed.

            Actually, I noticed the 1999 when I commented but I thought it might be petty to point that out. Petty, I never am. Not. I mean, I’m never petty. Just so you know.

            Reply

    • mylifeisthebestlife Says:

      OMG I TOTALLY asked about this on the post where you guys were twins but one of you was Bronson Pinchot. Did I help in the formulation of this brilliant explanation of all things fuel-related in Oregon? Because I feel like I should have a speech prepared or something…

      Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Thanks – I kind of suspect the humor will be lost on everyone who isn’t in Oregon or Jersey. Which is a lot.

      Reply

  7. Soma Mukherjee Says:

    This post will get you a noble prize for the most humanitarian selfless act…you have made it so clear that I, an Indian staying in India could understand it too!!

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, good, thanks. I specifically thought of you and other readers in India – hard enough for people in this country who lives in states where you can pump gas (or in Canada or even the UK) to relate or care, but I worried other readers might just say “BORING!” and move on.

      Reply

  8. speaker7 Says:

    Any restrictions on vehicles displaying truck nutz or cartoons of Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes peeing on something? I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for…um…my friend?

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Pirated images of Calvin peeing on things is encouraged, as it’s one of the last ways remaining that people express political beliefs. Also, it’s a documented fact that pictures of Calvin peeing on the word “terrorist” have nearly broken the spirit of Al Qaeda.

      Truck Nutz… the first time I saw those I thought I was going to explode. It’s like seeing someone married to a woman exactly like his mother who then says, “I love that play, Oedipus Rex. Probably because I wish I could kill my father and marry my mother.” You just don’t expect it to by right out there. WE knew that’s what was going on here… but we didn’t think YOU knew.

      Reply

  9. susielindau Says:

    “Fill ‘er up and check the oil please!” I remember being in the back of our family station wagon and going to the gas station. There were probably about 13 of us in the car coming back from a sporting event. We never wore seat belts…..those were the days…

    Reply

  10. She's a Maineiac Says:

    I died reading your caption with the monster truck. Well done. My brother just moved back here to Maine from Portland, OR a few weeks ago, after having lived there for over 12 years. He is very confused at the gas pump. He just sits in his Subaru, sips his Starbucks Tall Latte and waits.

    Reply

  11. Brown Road Chronicles Says:

    Good stuff! Made me laugh this morning! I don’t live there, but have had some family in New Jersey, they have that same stupid law where you can’t pump your own gas… at least they used to, haven’t been back in a while. I think it involved a lawsuit around someone with a disability not being able to pump their own gas… so politicians got involved and now no one can pump their own gas!

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Yeah, NJ has the same law we do – although I’m not sure about the motorcycle thing. Whatever the reasoning, there’s actually a lobbyist whose job is keeping those laws in place. Why? What’s the profit motive to get lobbyists involved? I don’t get it.

      The only reason I support the law is I like anything that makes Oregon a little weird.

      Reply

  12. genesismeranda Says:

    Thank you. These questions unanswered were killing me.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      My goal is to get this post put in to every Oregon Visitor’s guide.

      Speaking of which, true story: a while back I wrote a satirical psychological profile for a job application and it got linked to on a site for job application templates. They may wish to hire a new researcher.

      Reply

  13. sj Says:

    Only five helium hits? Pfft.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Unfortunately, the lobbyists for the “My Helium, My Hits” organization aren’t taken very seriously because all there speeches are in funny, high-pitched voices.

      Reply

  14. Facetious Firecracker Says:

    My parents divorced when my mom was nearly 40 year old. I remember clearly the first time she had to pump gas on her own because she had to ask a middle aged man how to do it. I think Oregon would have worked out well for her.

    Reply

  15. beck16 Says:

    This literally had me rolling with laughter! Thanks!!

    Reply

  16. Hippie Cahier Says:

    Neither here nor there, but are you allowed to put air in your own tires?

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Psh! Fff! Ha! An ordinary citizen?? Untrained and unlicensed?? Putting air in his or her own tires?? Oh, sure, and then they’ll perform brain surgery!

      Actually, yes.

      Reply

  17. clemarchives Says:

    Can cyborgs only be refueled by themselves?

    Reply

  18. cassiebehle Says:

    VW Bugs – May be filled by attedenant but only with gas derived of pot, hemp necklaces and underarm hair as you search for fresh wildflowers to put into the dashboard vase because quit phoning it in with fake flowers already, ya big hippie!

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I was once in Eugene (hippie central), Oregon, at an event at the U of O (hippie central central), on 4/20 (uh oh), when Woody Harrelson was holding a rally in front of his hemp-fueled RV.

      In his defense, he really was trying to talk about alternative energy… but that wasn’t going to happen.

      Reply

      • cassiebehle Says:

        Oh, B-MAN – that sounds like perfect timing for that line of consequential events to create some sort of wormhole that could make Mitch Hedberg come back to life.

        The power of it all was right in your hands!!!

        Reply

  19. Love & Lunchmeat Says:

    Do you also have a law that makes it illegal for you to make left hand turns? New Jersey driving should really be its own entity… Then again, the official terminology is “Michigan left”…

    Reply

  20. pegoleg Says:

    If it weren’t for blogging I would never have known about Oregon and NJ’s gas laws. I would have been traveling in one of those fair states and would have screamed “rape” when some sleazy grease-monkey appeared to be attacking my car. This is such a learning experience – thanks.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      It is strange that there aren’t any signs up telling people. Again, though, I don’t think anyone flips out if you start pumping your own gas. They just say, “From out of state, aren’t ya?”

      Reply

  21. Angie Z. Says:

    This explains why someone killed the electric car. He seems so damn smug.

    Reply

  22. thesinglecell Says:

    What about luxury SUVs whose owners hog roads and parking spots?

    Seriously though, I used to live in NJ, and I believe the reason self-serve is illegal there is that requiring full-serve gives people jobs.

    Reply

  23. Andrea Kelly Says:

    I also live in Oregon – my favorite part of my trip to Oklahoma? Learning to fill my own tank at a pump so old it didn’t have automatic shut off. Had lots of fun with that one!

    Reply

  24. Richard Wiseman Says:

    In the UK everything is self service and customers are requested to accept poor treatment, surly service personnel and are required by law to apologize for being there, needing something, paying too much for it and generally being born. Welcome to England we hope you enjoy your stay, but not too much and don’t start that ‘have a nice day’ shit with us we’re not playing.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Also standing in line. I’ve never seen anywhere with such finely honed queueing skills. I remember being somewhere, and someone absent-mindedly skipped ahead in line. People went ballistic.

      Reply

      • Richard Wiseman Says:

        Yeah I read about that incident in the papers. A lot of us wrote stern letters to the Times about moral standards dropping I can tell you. It was on News 24 for a week. Some of the people from that queue have PTSD; it was a shock for us all here in the UK. We’re learning the lessons though and hopefully we won’t be seeing that kind of shocking criminality again.

        Reply

  25. ghostwriter1984 Says:

    http://thenittanyline.blogspot.com/2009/12/matchup-comparison-rating-segue-edition.html Let’s remember the Segway. And in my part of Oregon, it’s against the city ordinances for horses to walk on sidewalks 🙂

    Reply

  26. Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface Says:

    Think of how many jobs could be created in the USA if all states required attendants to pump the gasoline…

    Reply

  27. mj monaghan Says:

    I’m so tired of getting those bloody emails in my inbox from you …

    Oh shoot, I was supposed to do this comment as “Anonymous.”

    Way to pump up the post! hehehe

    Reply

  28. Blogdramedy Says:

    What about jet packs? As an official “Jetson” I need to know so I’ll always be tanked up and ready to escape grizzly bears and low hanging fruit. Which everyone knows is rampant in Oregon.

    Reply

  29. pjsarecomfyn Says:

    FINALLY an explanation! I’ve traveled up to Oregon for work about a dozen times and always wondered these intricacies related to the gas law. Thank you for finally enlightening me!….Also I basically almost got tackled the first time I tried to pump my own gas and their first question was ‘so where are you from?’…..that happened when I was in NJ the first time too. Apparently I like almost getting tackled?

    Reply

  30. anecdotaltales Says:

    Okay, but are the rules different when I refill my car with Energon cubes?

    Reply

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