The changing face of petrol stations*

Well, here’s an off the wall idea for a post- especially given that I don’t drive! Hear me out though, having spent 30 years being driven around by other people and spending a lot of time as a passenger at petrol stations listening to other people muse this was, and is actually a really interesting subject to try and get some thoughts down about.

I also love to people watch at petrol stations, with so many idiots on the roads you really do get to seem some sights! And with things advancing at all times it’s no wonder that insurance is a big business (petrol station insurance from Forum Insurance here). Covering everything from fire risks to other people’s stupidity through the means of employee and public liability.

(Photo by Caryle Barton on Unsplash)

It always amuses me when we drive past an old school filling station- you know the ones with attended pumps, where someone else does the hard work? It’s a rarity these days and I think the only place I ever still see them is when I’m down in Devon or Cornwall. Things have come a long way. These days you can pretty much do your weekly shop when stopping for fuel- I quite often pop out of the car and in to the shop whilst my chauffeur for the day is filling the tank (especially if it’s an M&S simply food kind of place) and some of them are seriously fancy these days! When I was a kid popping in to the grotty Esso garage near school for some sweets for the walk home was about as good as it got, now you can pick up artisan biscuits, picnics that require a bank loan to afford and all manner of random non-edible items.

Car washes are a big thing too- from the super fancy all singing, all dancing machine washes (not gonna lie, they creep me out) to the do it yourself jet washers, there’s not much you can’t do at a petrol station now- it’s almost a wonder anyone spends less than half an hour at one!

Cost seems to be a common source of conversation among friends though, when planning a long journey they seek out the station with the cheapest fuel and do their upmost to ensure they won’t need to top up on the motorway as, well, 20p a litre price difference soon adds up! Luckily where we live petrol seems comparatively cheap and the prices are equal between the two stations that we have. Venture in to the city though and it is not only more expensive in general but depending on where you go- it’s not unheard of to fill up at one station only to drive two miles down the road and see it considerably cheaper. Cries of “I’ve been ripped off” are common.

Of course, as things advance safety is a big concern for many. Just having so much flammable material in one compact space is a risk in itself- you know, I once saw a lady light a cigarette whilst still at the pump and honestly did begin to despair for the human race! Seems like common sense does not always prevail!
I’ve also lost count of the amount of times I’ve almost been run over by people not paying attention as they move from the pump. The pattern appears to be get back in car, put foot down no matter who or what is in the way. My road sense isn’t the greatest and the forecourt really puts it to the test.

Does anyone else share these random fuel station musings? Honestly, I spend a lot of my time waiting for whoever I’m with to fill their tank wondering about this- I’m fully aware this makes me sort of odd but it’s amazing where the mind can wander at times!


2 comments for “The changing face of petrol stations*

  1. I’m fascinated by them abroad! So different and also quirky… There was a photographer I think who used to snap people at petrol stations – so many different faces and moods.

    Tatyana x

  2. I remember the Esso tiger tokens and used to pore over the catalogue of products. I used to dream of my mum saving the 1600needed for a Pocket Tv!

    It’s annoying when you can only find a super expensive one!