land of milk and honey my ass
May 16, 2008
Me and the family drove to San Diego last month for a week of boogie boarding and eating fish tacos. The boogie boarding was off the hook, the fish tacos were fresh and yummy.
You want to know what WASN’T off the hook and fresh and yummy?
California gas stations and convenience stores.
In a word, they suck.
I think you can judge the quality and advancement of a civilization by its gas stations and convenience stores. Of course, in advanced societies, gas stations and convenience stores are the same thing.
For example, my local convenience store, the Holiday Chevron at the bottom of the Suncrest hill in Draper, UT, has plenty of gas pumps, you can pay at the pump when the store is closed, and inside, they have a large array of soft drinks on tap (an absolute necessity to even make the list, although, I’d be happy if all they offered was Diet Coke), flavor shots, an array of hot dogs, and a small well-stocked grocery store. They also have free (compressed) air out back, and both a manual and automatic carwash.
And this is a pretty mediocre convenience store. The really good ones always have window washing material, always offer funnels when you buy a can of oil, have an actual fast food option besides cheddar cheese dogs, like Wendys, Arbys, or Subway (or better), and on the hot dog stand, they have “Fixins” like relish, sour kraut, and onions. And bathrooms that don’t require a key. And fritters and Dunford donuts. And lots of other stuff, like even their own bakery or deli. And maybe a balloon animal/shape guy.
In contrast, when I stopped at any number of gas stations in and around San Diego, they had these stupid kiosks between the pumps where you have to punch in which pump you’re using, then put your credit card in, then go back to your pump, where the nozzles have those fume blockers like big black accordions that make it so you can’t get the nozzle all the way into the gas tank and spill everywhere (um, maybe defeating the purpose) and when you’re done, go back to the kiosk and type in your pump number again to get your receipt. And the store inside has mediocre selection, never any flavor shots for my coke, they almost always have the dreaded cardboard/paper cups, short, skinny straws, and surly help.
Oh, and pretty much without exception, there was a sign that said “.75 cent surcharge for using a debit card.” You know, instead of saying, we’re grateful you’re buying stuff from us, it was, we only want your business if you don’t use a debit card. And bite us.
The odd thing is, the farther north we drove, the better the stores got. Bad in Barstow, bad in Baker, pretty mediocre in Las Vegas, slightly better in Mesquite, and by the time we got to St. George, we were back to the good stuff.
I guess I really do live in Zion.