Are You a Loyalty Club Member? Press Y/N.

pumpIt is -14 °F at 5:00 a.m., and I am pumping gas at the Quicki-Mart.

Out on the highway, cars sputter by dragging long tails of condensation.

I hope to join them soon but before I go anywhere, the pump has a few questions.

“Are you a loyalty club member… Y/N?”

I try to recall if my wife signed us up but I can’t focus. It is cold and the pop music blasting from the canopy overhead makes concentration impossible.

If I answer yes, the pump will demand that I document my loyalty by producing a plastic card. If I do nothing, hopefully it will move on.

The pumps sulks for a few moments before repeating the question.

“Are you a loyalty club member… Y/N?”

I press the “NO” button.

Now it wants to know if I want a car wash. The wash is closed because the doors are frozen to the concrete. Apparently the pump does not know this.

I indicate “NO”.

It continues the interrogation. “Do you want a receipt… Y/N?”

At -14 °F, all I want is gas, warmth and blessed silence from the canopy above.

A rumble rises from deep within its innards. I have heard dogs do that and I step back knowing what happens after dogs do that.

The pump winces. Its screen blinks.  Clearly it is very upset. Another LCD question slowly forms in the crystals….

“Are you a loyalty club member… Y/N?”

I get back into my car and drive down the highway to a gas station where I did business for years. There the pumps are stupid. They know nothing about human emotions, least of all loyalty. All they do is dispense gasoline.

I used to be fiercely loyal to this station back when the pumps were manned by guys with monosyllabic names like Roy, Chuck and Jim. No matter what the weather, they filled the tank, washed the windows,  checked the fluid levels and the tire pressure — and did so cheerfully.

But those guys aren’t around anymore because I stopped being loyal to them. Instead, I went down the block to pump my own gas and save a few pennies. Now that station demands I carry a card to prove my loyalty. I refuse to do it.  It is like a having to prove fidelity to a cheating spouse.

But more importantly, I refuse because of practical reasons. Being a typical American male means that I carry a wallet, which in turn means that I have to sit on their loyalty card, ergo in every sense of the word, a retailer’s loyalty card is a pain in the ass.

Besides if a retailer wants my loyalty, they can earn it by selling quality goods at a fair price. They also might consider standing behind their products instead of trying to clip me for an extended warranty.

I know the days of Roy, Chuck and Jim are gone. We threw them away. But gas stations can still earn my loyalty by providing clean restrooms, free air and of course – pumps that don’t nag you.

Author: Almost Iowa

36 thoughts on “Are You a Loyalty Club Member? Press Y/N.”

  1. Is there anything more frustrating that arguing with a gas pump when it’s that cold outside!!! I get really ticked off when they keep up the interrogation and want my zip code and I always forget to put in my new one!

  2. You’re right. That’s soooooo annoying. If you say no to a loyalty card, even though you have one but have no idea where it is, then you have to go through the whole pitch where they try to get you to sign up.
    Here’s a laugh for you. As I was reading your blog, my daughter texted me that her Dad and his wife’s flight safely made it through the storm after many delays. I said, because I’m reading your post, “So they’re finally in Iowa?” She replied “What??? They’re in Florida. You knew that.” Oops.

    1. Good one. By the way, it is -25F here today with a -50F windchill. Even the snow is huddling against the buildings to stay warm.

      Wouldn’t you know though, I brought Scooter in last night and all I got for my concern was growling and indignation. He loves the cold. He is out in the pasture rolling in the snow as I write.

  3. I agree!!! I hate the loyalty programs all the stores insist that we sign up for, but I especially hate the ones for the gas stations. Who wants to answer a series of questions when you’re standing there freezing (or in the summer, sweating) and all you want to do is fill up the tank of your car? We were silly to stop patronizing the old fashioned stations that had actual people to help us. LOVE this post. If I thought it would do any good, I’d print it off and tape it to the gas pumps all around town.

    1. If you do print the essay off and post it on a gas pump, make sure you don’t do it to any pumps that know me, I am trying to rebuild my relationship with gas pumps….and roto-tillers, and coffee makers and crock-pots. I don’t know why it is but the entire inanimate world seems to be bearing a grudge against me. I blame Stan.

  4. Ours were Bob, Jim and Bert. I would be fiercely loyal to the first station that puts a Mute button on the pump. Seriously, I’d pay $0.05 more per gallon if they’d let me mute the whole station while I’m pumping and for enough seconds for me to get back in my car and crank up the Allman Brothers.

    1. This morning it is -25F in Almost Iowa. The windchill is struggling to make it up to -50F. Worst of all – it is Christmas. Have you any idea what the timbre of pop Christmas tunes does to cracked, cold speakers?

  5. Out here in Oregon, they have a law that says we riffraff can’t pump our own gas. Safety reasons or some such. I think the legislature at the time of enactment must have been manned by Roy, Chuck or Jim. But we can still have our loyalty tested across the border in Washington.

    1. I have heard about that. While I’m more or less a “let people work it out” libertarian, there is something warm that glows in my heart when I hear of such things.

    1. Oh My Gosh, I saw the ultimate affront to humanity the other day. It was a self-serve beer dispenser for bars. If bartenders vanish, who can us guys complain about our wives too?

  6. Around here, we try. It’s Kemah hardware or me, rather than Lowe’s or Home Depot, and Arlan’s Home Market rather than Kroger or Hy-Vee. At the hardware store, I can buy a single bronze screw, or find out where to get the best deal on galvanized chain. At Arlan’s, there are no discount cards, and they still employ high school kids as sackers. The kids bag your groceries, and then carry them to the car for you. Protesting does no good. “Oh, no, ma’am. I’m happy to help you,” says the sixteen-year old. It’s worth paying a few cents extra on every item to keep the operation going. I think a lot of us have learned that loyalty doesn’t need a club and a card.

    1. “Oh, no, ma’am. I’m happy to help you,”

      You got to love that simple term of respect, “ma’am”. Some may complain that it is old fashioned – but then so are so many manners. I have heard it once said that the problem with “the public” is that it is made up of everybody… and manners are a way of dealing politely with everybody, whether you are inclined to like them or not.

      We need to keep kids bagging groceries, if only to practice manners.

  7. Was curious what you meant by “condescension” in the sentence “Out on the highway, cars sputter by dragging long tails of condescension.” Then I remembered that the guy in front of me on the interstate always does that. And, oh yeah, he also carries a guy so I guess he can condescend all he wants.

    1. It wouldn’t be so bad if when you fed your 50¢ into the pump – that you actually got air out. Most of the time, the compressor doesn’t work.

  8. Even with our balmy temps, I can’t stand to try to carry a card to save 3 cents per gallon – which winds up to be a whopping .60 per tank. I have enough lumps in my butt.

    1. I love this…. See Fat Wallet Syndrome.

      This gluteal pain sometimes radiates down your butt and down your leg. But, piriformis syndrome is also known as “wallet sciatica” or “fat wallet syndrome,” as the condition can be caused or aggravated by sitting with a large wallet in the affected side’s rear pocket.Oct 18, 2009 from Fat Wallet Syndrome | Weekends in Paradelle

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