Take ten minutes of your day to watch this. You’ll have a better day, most certainly.
A brown vehicle, surprisingly tasteful in its wildly gothic external decor, stops at a light. Amid the various brownish skulls and headstones adorning the SUV-ish car, I spot a sign saying “Thank You For Your Patience During Our Remodel,” and the active rear window wiper has been fashioned into a waving hand. Inspired by two comely girls waiting on the corner, the driver rolls down his passenger window, and out blares “Break on Through” by The Doors. Accompanying the song is a lip-synching monkey puppet, singing to the girls, who squeal and delight in this spontaneity.
This is an example of shit that happens in Portland every day, and why I adore it.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where drivers cannot pump their own gas. Can NOT, as in it is actually against the law, for those who didn’t quite understand it. In the short time I’ve had on this realm, I’ve held the job of “gas station attendant,” or fueler of cars, trucks, motorcycles and the lowly gas can at two points in my life, now being the second. I get paid a meager salary to do what others do ordinarily in 48 other states, and am completely aware of this fact. HOWEVER. There are laws, and there are things that you need to know, should you ever roll into my lot in need of petroleum product.
After some careful thinking, I’ve decided to break these down into Do’s and Don’ts, as are universally accepted by all attendants, but I’d first like to include one particular to my station. You see, we’re the cheapest gas in Portland- pretty much hard to beat prices across the board. That means we get a lot of business. And that means Busy-Ness. Sometimes I will be out there, servicing the 8 pumps we have, across two islands, and dealing with various peccadilloes such as feisty car tanks, the aforementioned cans, and credit card wonkiness that can have me tied up in place for a moment or two. Please be patient, and wait it out.
So then, DO:
-Roll down your window, get off your phone, and turn your music down. I need to hear you speak when you place your fuel order.
-Pop open your fuel door, if you have one.
- Know your zip code if you’re using a credit or debit card.
-Tell me whether you’re paying by cash or card.- Inform me if you’re paying with a large cash bill, like a 50 or 100, before I start fueling.
-Ask for a cash receipt BEFORE I change your money.
Finally in the DO column, know what side your gas tank is on, because most stations won’t pull their hoses around your car to reach it. If you’re in a new, borrowed, or rented vehicle -and it’s relatively new- check the fuel gauge. You’ll probably see a little arrow pointing left/right which will clue you in.
And now for the DON’T:
-Touch the pumps. It’s against the law, and it’s against some station’s policies even if you’re getting diesel.
-Get out of your vehicle and “supervise” the fueling. This is almost always done by men, and frankly, it almost always leads to the above.
-Ask me to put refined petroleum into anything other than an approved gas can. They usually come in red.
-Pull in to a slot facing another car. This will almost always result with negative consequences.
-Pay me in coins, unless you are getting less than $5.00 worth of gas.
- Ask me to round up, or “top off” your fill. Not only is it bad for the environment and the health of everyone, the new-fangled pumps actually suck a good portion of that excess back into the hose, so you’re not getting what you’re paying for.
-Park your vehicle at a pump, and go into the store before I get your order. Because then it takes twice as long to get your butt off the lot, doesn’t it?
- Pull in too close to the pumps. My hose has a reach of about six feet. Give me room to work.
-Pull in too far away from the pumps. Many people make the mistake of stopping when the pump display is at their window. That’s awesome for you, but not so much for the actual dispensation process when your tank is six feet away. Sure, I may be able to reach it, but your fuel door might get bent.
- Get impatient, loiter, or cause friction with other customers.
And finally, the percentage of you out there who have locking gas caps, why must you have a plethora of other keys and assorted fobs? It really, really sucks for us.
Happy trails, and have an awesome trip to the pumps next time you’re in my Portland woods.
Although I can find no information to support it, my theory is a young Edward James Olmos is the guy who picks up Mark Hammil’s character Kenny on his way to Las Vegas in the 1978 film, Corvette Summer. Imdb has a mysterious chararacter called “Uncredited” played by some actor named Rio, who doesn’t seem to exist, and Wikipedia/Olmos’ bio is silent on the subject. Sounds to me like this was before Olmos was serious about acting, and used a fake name. I don’t blame him for not taking credit, but I’m shocked I’m the first one to notice this obvious piece of acting history.
Be my guest, and watch the scene. Tell me this isn’t a young Adama giving a young Skywalker a ride.
The fact that Gandalf/Ian McKellan makes an appearance in this movie as a pornographer makes this claim even more plausible.
UPDATE: Well, after further investigation, the truth is revealed. It sure looks like a young EJO, but according to the Unofficial Corvette Summer site, that’s Isaac Ruiz Jr., who had a part on Chico and the Man.
If you’re ever on a long road trip with friends, a great time-killer is The Alphabet Game. This is where you all look out the car windows and look for words on billboards, business signs, passing vehicles, and even license plates to try and complete the alphabet. Each successful observed word must start with the appropriate letter of the alphabet, and then you advance to the next letter. No one can use a word that somebody has already spotted, so alertness is favored.
X and Z are particularly hard, but Dairy Queen will always save your ass for “Q.” The above photo may be a fake, but it would help if someone was stuck on any of those dreaded letters, particularly X.
I miss going to the drive-in, a movie experience unlike any other yet a quickly disappearing icon of early American car culture. The differences between going to a drive-in and a regular theater are numerous. I remember looking around at other screens when the movie I was watching grew slow, the obligatory repeat visits to the concession stand, even sneaking in via the trunk to save a few bucks.
When real estate became too valuable, these operations were forced out for development, and they just started vanishing. Even improving the audio experience -by replacing those awkward, often broken speakers with a signal beamed to the local AM/FM band- hasn’t stopped the extinction. Even the film world is somewhat devoid of scenes involving one, but there are a handful that I can think of.
The Centinela Drive-In in Los Angeles was already closed up when Michael Mann filmed this scene for Heat there. The rows of small inclines, placed there so patrons could angle their cars up for premium viewing experience, make for some exciting driving as the characters react to a violent double-cross. The land is now a middle class development. (More Heat filming locations at the link.)
Back to the Future III
In order to send Marty back this time, Doc sets up at a drive-in movie theater with a decidedly western theme. How appropriate. As the DeLorean accelerates to 88mph, it’s headed right for a wall mural featuring a tribe of Old West Indians riding fiercely on horseback. After he jumps, Marty is instantly surrounded by the same thing, only it’s real this time. How clever!
In this Roy Scheider/Malcolm McDowell helicopter thriller, there’s one scene where Scheider’s girlfriend has to retrieve evidence left in a dumpster at an L.A. drive-in (probably not the same one as Heat).
Drive-in theaters weren’t strictly a park-and-view experience. Many, especially in the 1960s, included playgrounds, patio dining, and a bandstand type seating area for pedestrian moviegoers – or greasers who sneak in under the fence, like in Francis Ford Coppola’s classic.
In 1985, the Spotlight 88 drive-in theater in Pennsylvania was destroyed when an F3 tornado ripped through it. Afterwards, before it closed and became a flea market, the management changed the marquis sign to say “Now Playing: Gone with the Wind.” In Jan de Bont’s 1996 action movie, a twister of similar magnitude surprises a late night screening by chewing right through a screen showing The Shining. As a somewhat ham-handed tribute, de Bont has the screen and funnel meld together just as Jack Nicholson delivers his “Here’s Johnny!” line.
In the Broadway production of Grease, the scene is the same, but the song Danny Zuko sings is actually called “Alone at the Drive In.” It’s a more bebop-ey, era-accurate song than “Sandy” could ever hope to be, but updating is nothing new. Also, nice inclusion of the animated snack bar ads. Everyone loves it when the hot dog jumps into the bun.
This gruesome gem was director Peter Bogdanovich’s first movie, edited by Jaws‘ Verna Fields, and starred Boris Karloff in a kind of self-reflective role. He plays a former monster movie actor whose style is outdated; the people need scarier monsters now. So another character decides to go on a shooting spree, at one point shooting people from behind the drive-in movie screen they’re all staring at. Whoa, deep.
Another fairly unknown movie that gets a lot of repeat viewings at this household. Billy Crudup, Samantha Morton, Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter, Dennis Hopper. How’s that for a “Who’s in it?” Anyway, great cast and a life-affirming journey. In one crazy scene, after Crudup and Black have ingested some sort of hallucinogen, they come across an old drive-in, weeds growing tall and just the posts left where the speakers used to hang. Crudup’s character thinks he’s walking through a graveyard, then beholds his love up on the giant screen. And someone’s feet is playing an organ. It’s weird. Cool, but really strange.
Herbie Fully Loaded
Yeah, well that’s what I’ve heard.
It was wise of John Carpenter to alter the scene in the book where Leigh almost chokes to death on a hamburger, and place it at a drive-in instead of outside of a fast food place. It just feels more natural to have a car like that 1958 Plymouth Fury at a drive-in theater. Right? And instead of a hitchhiker, we just get someone who was in the next car over to save her, at Arnie’s expense.
As with many of the aggregate posts I write, I’m sure I missed some. Any ideas?
I can only think of six cars whose model name is also the title of a well-known movie. I set the rules pretty straightforward that – with the exception of the word “the” removed – it has to be an exact title. No Explorer, Odyssey, or oh-so-close-but-no-cigar Mitsubishi Outlander. Anyone who can add to this list is invited to do so, but this is what happens when you spend a few years pumping gas for a living. It sticks with you. Anyway, here they are.
1. Ford Maverick
2. Chevy Silverado
3. Chrysler 300
4. Toyota Matrix
5. Toyota Highlander
6. Jeep Patriot
Go on and tell me what I missed, but remember the rules. It has to be an exact match (forgiving “the”). So no AMC Gremlin for you!