Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Charging for Air? Good Grief!

Will Edwinson PhotoA bit of nostalgia mixed in with a bit more soapbox this week, folks.  Remember all those little amenities we received when we pulled up to the gas pump back in the days of 35 cents per gallon gasoline?  Amenities such as having your oil checked, windows washed, and tires checked?   They even pumped the gas; and all came under the heading of service.

There was another distinct advantage to living in small communities back in those days as well.  I remember a particular service grocery stores in Grace, Idaho offered when I was a kid growing up there.   My grandmother didn’t drive so she had to walk to the store.  There were times when her grocery list was more than she could carry home, but this was no problem because the local grocery stores provided free delivery service to their customers.  I remember my mother talking about some of her friends who would simply call in their grocery list, which the store would fill, and then deliver the groceries to their door. This was all part of the service for doing business with them.  Imagine the super markets of today offering such service.  How laughable.

And then there were the restaurants during the 1940s and ‘50s.  Remember when the price listed on the menu was actually the price you paid for a meal; a meal that included with the main fare soup, salad, coffee or tea, and dessert. No extra charge for each of these side delicacies(and of course, no sales tax, either), And, also, we the customers were allowed to determine how much of a tip the waitress deserved without being told by the restaurant how much the tip should be.   Those businesses seemed to do okay profit wise in those days, which leads me to what I really want to talk about in this post.

Dad always said that if a business provided quality products and gave good service, the profits would come; and I believe this. One example of this sage wisdom is reflected in the success—during these modern times—of a regional retail tire company that has held on to the tenet of doing business the “old fashioned” way.  They fix flat tires free whether they were purchased from them or not.  This company also provides free rotate and balance service on tires purchased from them for the life of the tires(and they offer free air!!!).  This company is to be commended for these extra services.

Ah… but the times, they are a changing.  I really don’t mind pumping my own gas, and I actually prefer checking my own oil, but I’ve been noticing lately as I travel around, that more and more of the C-Stores that sell gasoline, are charging 75 cents to a dollar for three minutes of air to pump up one’s tires.  This does not set well with me.  Makes me wonder how long it will be before they figure a way to charge us a quarter to dip the squeegee in the water bucket to wash our windshields.  With gasoline heading back toward four bucks a gallon, and with high profit margin items on their shelves, do these people really have to charge for air? Good grief!

If the compressors for supplying air to their customers are so costly that they cannot offer free air as a service, then for heaven’s sake, why offer it at all?  If it weren’t so irritating, it would almost be laughable. Charging 75 cents to a dollar  for air? Shame, shame, on them.   What ever happened to good old-fashioned “good will” service?

Lest you get the notion that I’m anti-business or one of those who are always lamenting the fact that businesses are making obscene profits—I’m not.  I’m a political conservative.  Some have even accused me of being just a bit to the right of Atilla the Hun. 🙂  I’m even an avid Rush Limbaugh fan, pray tell; so I’ll champion to the end of my days, the free enterprise system and the rights of business to make a profit; but doggone it, folks, some things in the pursuit of profit go beyond the pale, and, in my opinion, charging for air has to be one of them.

Now, if you’re into other types of nostalgia, let me tell you about by book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures.  It’s a compilation of adventures about a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s.  Buddy might be described as reminiscent of a twentieth century Tom Sawyer in that he often finds himself in hot water for which he must pay the consequences.  Unlike Tom, however, Buddy’s misdeeds are without forethought.  They happen because Buddy is…well…he’s just Buddy.  You can obtain a free copy of the book by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page.  Enjoy.

—Will

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