Thursday, September 27, 2007

Just like a woman

I just finished a tri-state journey of almost 2000 miles through Washington, Oregon and northern California. Every place I stopped, whether for gas, food, banking, shopping or other needs, had terrific customer service. I was treated very well and several people wanted to know how I handle being a solo RVing woman.

I really like the gas stations in Oregon because you're not permitted to pump your own gas. An attendant comes to your window, asks for the key and location of your gas cap, and then pumps the gas for you. Not only that, if you're paying with cash, s/he will take your money to the cashier for you, returning with a receipt and any change.

One of my boondocking nights was spent at the Travel Center of America (TA) in Redding, CA. In the booth next to me were two long-time truckers (one was 87 years old and said he would keep driving until he couldn't handle the big Kenworth any more), and we spoke about politics, driving, courtesy, respect and several other issues. We agreed on many things, although our points of view came from different directions. I have a great deal of respect for long haul truckers and usually find a space between them when I travel. They're professionals and maintain the speed which gets me where I want to go, saving gas while I drive. It's amazing the difference five miles an hour makes to fuel consumption. The two men knew I'm an RVer and although they frequently look at us with disdain because of our driving ability, they also were intelligent enough to know we're good drivers too.

My RV was losing power and labored up the steep grades in southern Oregon, traveling 35 mph in granny gear. The oil gauge started fluctuating wildly in Rogue River, Oregon the day before I left to travel south and I was going to wait until I reached San Francisco so I could have the oil changed. Instead, I spotted a Denny's in Yreka after the last long downgrade and left the highway for a cup of coffee.

I asked about a place that could handle an oil change for an RV and was directed to an Oilstop about a mile away. Not only was it RV friendly with a shallow driveway and high overhead doors, the service was phenomenal. Four young men treated me with kid gloves, offered a free drink, performed a 33-point inspection, made suggestions (but did not push) for additional treatments, gave me a computer printout of the services they performed and recommended action, and had me back on the road in under 15 minutes. And yes, they looked like the people in the picture. Their mission statement: "We will serve people with excellence, humbly, with a servant's heart." And they did. The RV ran like she was new and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the trip.


  1. "I really like the gas stations in Oregon because you're not permitted to pump your own gas."
    Oregonians apparently love this "service", too, but I'm very glad that we do *not* have to deal with it in CA.

    I've had *three* bad experiences when fueling in (widely different areas of) OR:
    1. The kid pump attendant stuck the *diesel* hose into the tank of my gas-powered MH; I caught him before the pump started! His comment was, "I thought all RVs were diesel."
    2. Another kid attendant was running back and forth horsing around and chatting with his buddies at another pump and not attending to customers; I waited over 5 minutes for him to finish screwing around, then got out of the RV and took the nozzle out, took my receipt, and drove away.
    3. The third problem (this happened twice) involved the attendant trying to fill the tank with higher-than-requested octane gas. His "take" was that 89 was "better" than 87 for my rig. You might guess what my "answer" was.

    I'll pump it myself, thank you! YMMV.

  2. Even worse, I had an really dirty, scruffy attendent in Oregon come up to the window with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth. I literally yelled at him to put it out.

    Thank you very much, I'm smart enough to fuel my rig myself, rather than have some semi-homeless 8th-grade-dropout try to blow up my rig.

    When we travel in the northwest, I usually fill up at either the Washington or California side of the border, and try to get gas as seldom as possible while in Oregon. The previous poster's incident points out that you should always watch what they're doing and look at the readout on the pump; to make sure they don't give you the wrong grade of gas, didn't zero out the pump from the last customer, or try some other kind of monkey business.

    The Oregon government claims that this provides jobs for the unemployed, but there has to be a better way. It raises the cost of gas. And having semi-illiterate uncaring semi-vagrants do the fueling is more dangerous than having the vehicle owner do the fueling himself.

  3. Then I guess I was very lucky. I had my gas pumped at a Chevron station in Chemault, Gordy's Truck Stop in La Pine, a station in Rogue River, a Love's Truck Stop in Roseburg (where I had new wiper blades installed), a station in Silverton, and a station in Medford. Most of the attendants were men and there were two women who pumped for me. They were efficient and friendly. Of course, I was standing next to the gas tank while they handled the pump. I didn't know there was such a problem with the attendants so I will keep an eye on them the next time I'm in Oregon. Thanks for the warning.

  4. I am an Oregonian who has recently taken up fulltiming. While living in Oregon I continually voted against (and wud still) pumping your own gas. The idea that you save money is ridiculous, since all you have to do is look across the river to Washington (where they do pump their own) and find that their gas prices are NOT lower, often they are higher.
    Don't get me wrong...I rather like pumping my own, but because I don't have to wait for an attendant, and actually in OR if you go to Flying J's and use the RV lanes, you can usually pump your own w/o them caring much.
    I must say tho, I have NEVER seen an attendant show up at my window w/ a cigarette, and it kinda sounds like the attendant probs might be from smaller towns. As for the vagrant comments, I can't say that I've ever seen that either.
    I'm sorry that a few have had such bad experiences but I think that it is really not the norm.

  5. Last May in Virginia a ruffian type ran up to my R,V. to pump. I said I can do it, but he did. Then he said my RV looked so nice, he would like to see the inside. I told him my two dogs.a chichiau and terrier would tear him up. after asking the third time and being refused entry, he left. Dolly

  6. Every day, I try to learn something new. Today I've learned my lesson from all of you who responded. From now on, I'll pump my own gas. The good experiences I had on my trip were the exception, not the norm.

    Thank you all for your responses.