Over the last three decades, gas station full service has been replaced by pay-at-the-pump machines or if paying with cash, by cashiers behind glass partitions who take payment in advance — which often requires returning for change.
Whether credit or cash, the dance ends the same way: You pump your own gas.
Gone are the easy-going days when a young man in a jump suit would greet you at the service station, pump your gas for you, clean your windshield and take your payment all without you having to leave your car.
Well, not quite gone.
• Photos: Customers let them ‘fill ‘er up’
A handful of stations in Southern California still offer full service but only in upper-class communities such as Bel Air, Brentwood, Santa Monica and San Marino. At such stations, customers pay more for service, akin to paying extra for leg room on an airplane or having your groceries delivered — a business model making a comeback in the monied pockets of a patch-knit society separated by economic lines.
Motorists who cruise into Leon’s Auto Care in San Marino sometimes feel like they’ve entered a time warp, say pre-1986, the year pay-at-the-pump was introduced.
At the Unocal station at the corner of Los Robles Avenue and Mission Street, probably the only one like it in the San Gabriel Valley, everyone experiences having their gas pumped for them. If they want to pay even more for “full serve,” they can ask the attendant to look under the hood and check the car’s fluids and put air in the tires.
San Marino and Pasadena residents enjoy the nicety of having their gas pumped.
Outsiders not familiar with the service can be…
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