Antique Junk Drawer

Feminism, Gas Pumps and Clock Batteries

The other day I was out running errands and I had to stop and put gas in my car.  Filling the tank with gas is not my favorite task, but I’m an independent modern girl and I put gas in my own car.  But honestly?  I’d rather not and am happy to get out of doing it whenever I can. I don’t know why. It just seems to me that the men folk should have to pump the gas, take out the trash, remove the dead geckos from the shower and other duties as assigned. When it comes down to it, I’m old-fashioned.

I see that all the pumping stations are occupied, so I pull up behind my favorite pump and wait for it to become available.  Gas pumps are like bathroom stalls — you have your favorite one, you know you do and why it is your favorite defies explanation, but it is the one you go to when need arises.

So then…

I’m sitting in my car waiting for my pump to become available and I’m taking note of all the stories going on at the gas station this morning.  In particular, I notice this elderly couple get out of their car and make their way around to the pump.  As is sometimes said, if they were moving any slower they woulda been going backwards.

The little Mrs. was apparently the driver.  She is the first to get out of the car. She is dressed very crisply in her lavender stretch pants, matching blouse and never-committed-even-a-venial-sin bright white Keds.  She weighs all of 98-pounds.  I am guessing by the scarf she is wearing tied under her chin that she has recently been to what she would probably term the “beauty parlor” where the “beauty operator” washed and set her hair.  Just so.  I also suppose that her beauty operator is named Velma and has been doing hair since 1949.

At any rate, the elderly lady gets out of her car, makes her way around to the other side of the car where she opens the door and helps an elderly gentleman out of the car. I assume he is her husband. She manages to maneuver him into his walker, the kind with the tennis balls on the front, and together they work their way around the car to the pump.  Together with great time and effort, he puts gas in her car. Because by cracky, as long as that man has breath in his lungs, she will not pump the gas.  Whether is it she who will not pump the gas or he who will have not have his wife pumping gas I can’t quite tell, but I can tell that’s how it is for them.

It was almost painful to watch and part of me wanted to jump out of my car and pump their gas, but I didn’t.  I could have done that small thing for them – easily – but it seemed an intrusion of sorts and in this day of age, they would have probably found it more frightening than helpful. So I sat and watched.

Later, I stopped in at one of my favorite boutiques and purchased a small clock for a gift.  The sales clerk, who appeared to be the same age as my mother, was very kind and helpful. I asked her if the clock had a battery in it. She said that the clock came with a battery but that it was not in the clock. She added that I would have to have my husband put it in when I got home.

I laughed to myself and decided that I would have him do that as soon as he gets back from putting gas in my car.

51 thoughts on “Feminism, Gas Pumps and Clock Batteries

  1. Awww. Lovely little vignette. And you would like Oregon. It’s illegal to pump your own gas there. You have to just sit and let the attendant do it for you. Our gas isn’t any more expensive either!
    We’re old-fashioned too (he does taxes and garbage; I cook; kids do dishes)

  2. I can’t tell you how many teachers I work with who won’t pump their own gas. As one friend said, “I told Randy that he was going to put gas in my car. He asked why he should do it if he didn’t drive my car. Well, I told him that I don’t wear his underwear, but I wash it anyway.” Enough said.

  3. I love that the elderly gentleman wanted to pump the gas for his wife and that she had the grace to acquiesce to that need/desire on his part. She’s driving, she surely could have pumped it herself. But she gave him the space (and, yes, the aid) to do it for her.

    I can’t remember the last time I pumped the gas for my car. My dear husband does it for me. Not because I can’t, and not because I told/asked him to do it, but because he knows I don’t like to do it and he wants to do that for me. Just one small act of love in the midst of many. And every time I get in my car and see the tank is full, I love him more.


  4. One good thing about our kids being old enough to drive…”Son, the van needs gas. Please go fill it up for me.” I waited 16 years to be able to say that. And I figure it’s training him well for his future wife.

    My mother seems to think I, as a woman, can’t do anything. She was shocked when I took a lamp out of the box and assembled it instead of waiting for my husband to get home and do it for me.

  5. I’m spoiled. I just have to tell my husband my truck is low on gas and he will go get it for me. I do fill it on occation and don’t mind doing it. But, it sure is nice to be pampered!

  6. LOL that is funny. While I do many things, (drywalling, painting, hammering, fixing–even replace batteries!) my husband always puts gas in my car for me. I don’t think I even know how to do it anymore! So it’s good to see my future! Love hearing from you!

  7. I always get my own gas (doesn’t make sense to me to have my husband take the car BACK OUT to get gas when I drive right by the station on my way home from work). If we’re out together though he almost always gets it. This is less because of chivalry (although he is VERY chivalrous)& more because I always have to go to the bathroom LOL.

    This past year has been really hard for me. My husband got a full time university position & doesn’t have time to get groceries or cook for me anymore. I have to do that myself these days. I miss my house husband!

  8. Well, just like Oregon, it is illegal to pump your own gas here in NJ, also. And our gas is actually cheaper than in nearby PA! Most of the time I love it, but when you’re in a hurry it can be exasperating.
    Sometimes, even though I am an independent and highly capable woman, I wish that the husband would “rescue” me from some of the more masculine jobs I am apt to do. Like moving furniture, etc. Sometimes I’m too independent for my own good.

  9. hehe…that is cute. I agree with you regarding the assigned duties. I, too, am perfectly able (and often do) pump my own gas. But I will admit that whenever my husband is with me, no matter who is driving, that he is the one who pumps the gas.

    However if he starts using a walker first then I will probably relent and do it.

  10. I can remember when gas stations were full service. Pull in and the attendant pumped your gas and cleaned front and back windshields and asked if you wanted you oil checked.

    I’m in NJ now and we don’t pump our own gas, but no one ever cleans my windows!

  11. I think part of what is going on with the elderly couple is that one of the secrets to a long and happy marriage is a willingness to push each other’s happy buttons, whatever those may be. It’s a very sweet picture.

  12. well LOL…good story…but being an Army wife of twenty years – we are now retired – having my hubby fix or do something when he got home…might involve several weeks…days…and sometimes months…LOL…but being the good army wife I was…with my handy screwdriver or whatever…and instructions…we forged ahead LOL…old fashioned is nice…but sometimes??? LOL..and if all else fails…there is that sweetie enlisted young man that works in my hubby’s office or unit that will gladly…for a home cooked meal…fix it for me LOLOL….life is grand and memories are great!!! hugs from Ora in KY

  13. Here in NJ we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas. I have never done it and dread even the thought of doing it. How sad. This summer I’ll have to make sure I learn while we are on vacation. Or not.

  14. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my eldest child– I couldn’t stand the smell at the gas station– So my dear sweet hubby would make a special trip up to the gas station to get the van gas– uh– we live in Oregon so all he had to do was wait while someone else pumped the gas! 🙂
    It still makes me happy :0)

    I laughed when I read this post … and I really needed a laugh… thanks!

  15. Okay, apparently I’m missing something here, because it has never bothered me to pump my own gas. (Nor has it occurred to me to have my husband pump the gas). I guess in my family, if you’re driving, you’re pumping. Maybe because we don’t live in a state where you can’t pump your own. Maybe because I wasn’t around in the time of gas station attendants. Maybe because I’m one of those wacky women who changes her own batteries. I dunno. I thought maybe it was just your quirk about it, but 21 comments above seem to agree with you, so maybe it’s me after all. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  16. Oh, that is so funny. Sometimes I have a hard time convincing my husband that just because we live in modern times where girls can do anything, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a little chivalry every now and then! Thankfully, he usually pumps my gas without much of a grumble.

  17. I’m from Oregon and we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas. But when I go to Washington to visit my sister I get all nervous about it and wish my hubby was around to pump my gas for me. He doesn’t do it because I make him. He does it because he loves me. And I love to watch him do anything so it’s a win/win really!

  18. My PaPaw owned a “filling station”–one with the little bell dinger that rang when you drove over it. My mother–the tomboy–would wash the windows while PaPaw pumped the gasoline. That being said, if hubs is with me, he pumps. . .and I like it that way.

  19. I don’t mind pumping my own gas, but hubby does it when he’s with me, because he’s afraid of how it would look to others if he was sitting there while I was doing the work (at home, that doesn’t bother him!).

    MY favorite pump is whichever one is facing the right way to line up with my vehicle’s “gas hole” (as my father likes to call it). I sometimes STILL miss a car I had over 20 years ago where the gas hole was under the license plate so I could pull up to the pumps any which way!

  20. So I usually do pump my own gas, but honestly I’d rather not. I’d love for my husband to do it for me. I think it’s just so precious that this husband still wants to pump his wife’s gas. Too sweet.

  21. I don’t like to pump gas either, but hubs will only pump when asked. So if I am about out on the weekend when he’s driving my van, I hint heavily and he fills it. But he is ready to give himself high fives if *I* had to fill it before the weekend comes! LOL

  22. *sigh* Your stories always make me wistful for the good old days. 🙂 I hate pumping gas and will have my daughter do it whenever I can or if my husband doesn’t get to it first. I’m with you on the men roles…there’s just some things I don’t want to do! lol

  23. Oh, I had an experience like that. When I was single, I thought about buying a house and looked at some with my mother. In one particular neighborhood of new houses, the sales lady basically told me that I might get lucky and get married and then be able to buy a house, just like she did. I almost laughed out loud. I was an engineer and could certainly buy my own home, but kept that to myself since she clearly didn’t see me as a prospective customer.

  24. My mom is a lot more handy than my dad. About 35 years ago my mom bought a new clothes dryer and her plan was to save on the installation and install it herself. The delivery man would not tell her what to do–he kept saying that she couldn’t do it. Finally, he told her explained all the steps to her, so that she could tell her husband. Ha! He left, and my mom installed it.

  25. Oh I love this! This is totally my grandparents . . . they worked hard on the farm with their 7 kids and Grandma could do anything, but there was no way Grandpa was going to let her so much as change a lightbulb if he didn’t have to. When he was in a wheelchair and couldn’t do it anymore, he would call my brother or my cousin over and have them do it because “Grandma deserves a rest today.” Oh who I miss my Grandpa and his relationship with my Grandma.

  26. My grandmother never pumped her own gas before my grandpa died, and she still goes to full-service stations. I would like to think that the man you saw chooses to pump the gas for his wife.

    And, on the side, I also hate getting my own gas and try to avoid it as much as possible.

  27. That is so funny. I can’t count the number of times my Mother-in-law gave one of the kids a gift that needed batteries installed with the use of a screwdriver. She’d comment that my husband could put the batteries in for us.
    I laughed knowing I was the only one who both knew where the screwdriver and hammer was and I am quite capable of utilizing both.

  28. That is so funny! I also hate pumping my own gas — almost always try to get the husband to do it for me on the weekends! He thinks I’m crazy!

  29. Awww, that is sweet! I hate pumping my own gas too… I go to the full service pump. I know, it makes me a diva, I can’t help it.

  30. May it always be!

    Here in Oregon we are not allowed to pump our own gas, so that angle is moot… but as long as I’m able to do so, I’ll be opening the door for my wife every time.

  31. You are such an amazing writer – I LOVE when a new post pops up! This post reminded me so much of my grandparents…until he was bedridden, my grandfather opened my grandmother’s car door – even when she was the one driving. She would just sit patiently and wait for him to open her door. It was always funny when people who were new to our family witnessed this for the first time – sometimes they would ask if something was wrong with Grandma, sometimes they would try to get the door themselves-somehow, the outsider always got clued in – Grandpa never found Grandma’s seat empty. Thanks for bringing back this memory.

  32. What a sweet story! I love how long married couples have developed a system of how life works for them.

    I used to work for an elderly couple years ago and they were very much like this.

  33. That is a very sweet story.
    My parents just turned 60. Mom leaves for work at 4:30 in the morning, 5 minute drive. Dad doesn’t have to be at work until 7 but he gets up and walks her to her car, maybe 15 steps from their apartment door and then goes back to sleep.
    My husband takes care of anything heavy, gross, and the ironing 🙂 despite working 90 miles from home. I love that man.

  34. Loved it. As always, you have hit the nail on the head. I’m old enough I remember when the attendant pumped the gas. I find myself pulling up and thinking “Dang, I hate doing this.”

    Sometimes, women’s lib isn’t all it’s cracked up to be is it? Oh, and before some young one slays me for it, there were many independent women before the 1970s. My grandmothers and great-grandmothers among them.~~Dee

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