Petrol Pump Heresy

Self-service petrol stations are to be trialled in Dubai, according to this article.
The first time I filled up here, I caused major confusion by getting out and trying to pump petrol myself. When I finally realised that there was someone there to help me, I made the situation worse by walking inside to try and pay. What I was supposed to do was sit in my car, let the attendant do the pumping and pay him directly, probably after he’d finished cleaning the windows. How ridiculous, I thought.
Rather like supermarket delivery to your door, you get used to this system rather quickly. A few months later I was back in the UK on holiday and stopped to fill the car up. After five minutes sitting in the car, straining my neck to find the attendant, I remembered I had to do it myself. Standing in the freezing rain, grappling with the hire car’s petrol cap, I decided the UAE system was much better.
It’ll be interesting to see how well this system gets implemented in the UAE. I’ll be the first to say that I have no desire to fill my car up myself during the summer months. Yep, the attendants are standing there in the heat, but that is their job. I’m not saying I would like their job, but there are plenty of jobs I don’t want to do. There are people who would never stoop to do my job either. So they may be in the heat, which isn’t much fun, but there you go.
If you’re on the way to a meeting, standing in your suit in 50C heat is not something you want to do. In fact, it’s not something you want to do, full stop.
My main worry with this system, particularly when it’s introduced, is safety. It’s common for people here to keep the engine running while the car’s being filled up, so that they can keep the AC on. I don’t do this, but lots of people do. Equally common is sitting in the car smoking, waving the cigarette end around whilst talking, with the window wide open. People also think nothing of smoking outside the petrol station ‘shop’ area as well. I asked some young guys to stop smoking once – the response I got was ‘petrol there, cigarette here, no problem’. My response was along the lines of ‘I don’t mind if you want to kill yourself, but I’d rather you didn’t kill me at the same time’. To be fair, the kids put their cigarettes out.
Claims that this new system is designed to speed things up seem a little disingenuous. Having someone pump your petrol’s clearly going to be faster than getting out of your car, walking to the counter, queueing, paying and filling up yourself. This seems like a cost-cutting exercise to me.
As with many things, I predict mild chaos, then we’ll all get used to it.


One Response to “Petrol Pump Heresy”

  1. Sam Says:

    You forgot to mention that in case you paid too much (since you have to pay before you actually fill up), you have to go back in, queue again and wait for them to return you the balance.
    I guess it makes sense from a commercial angle, you go in twice and you are twice more likely to buy something from the grovery.
    As they say here : I urge the authorities to do the needful.

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