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Daze of My Life: "Fill 'er Up"

Daze of My Life
"Fill 'er Up"

Not any more. Besides, I don't carry that much cash on me - and since I usually gas-up at a discounted self-service station where the price is often right (but the service is not) and cash is the only accepted currency - the last thing any pumper wants to do after he's prepaid (a requirement or else the gas doesn't flow) and then pumped his gas, is to have to return to the self-serve cashier, wait in line yet again, and ask for a return of an overpayment, typically a dollar or two, depending on your original best guess. Therefore, to eliminate this inevitable eventuality, most of us self-servers say a fixed dollar amount on a certain pump rather than "fill 'er up" and thus avoid the inconvenience - and humiliation - of a return engagement with the cashier (unless of course, you're buying your gas at a full service gas station or self-serving at a station that accepts credit cards. Which if you are, and can afford either of these scenarios, means you probably have more money than me and aren't concerned about the pennies on your dollars; in effect, none of this makes any sense.
As a consequence of this gas-pumping reality, perhaps the phrase "fill 'er up" should be officially withdrawn from word circulation. And what better, timelier reference source to confirm this future non-usage than the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Collegiate Dictionary whose 11th Edition was recently published.
Often, with the announcement of the edition's publication, there is discussion of some of the "new" words officially accepted into the lexicon and thus appearing in the dictionary for the first time, thereby confirming their status as words that you can now live by - and use, "ginormous," is an '07 example I recall hearing mentioned. Maybe deleted words, and the reason for their deletion, might garner the same publicity.
And speaking of words and phrases we seem to use and/or hear less and less: "thank you," "excuse me" and "please" come to mind. And not that I wrote the book on courtesy, but I've certainly written a column or two on the subject. A subject which, initially may have been a pet peeve, has now morphed into a downright epidemic; and it seems more and more people are afflicted everyday, what a disease! In fact, I would characterize the spread of the disease as ginormous (extremely large).
Which brings me back to the gas station, where I already go way too much. If I were to be kind, and courteous, I suppose I could describe the oil companies' record-breaking quarterly profits as ginormous, but given the present less than courteous environment in which many of us exist, I'll risk exceeding the bounds of decency and in turn call these profits grotesque, as in disgusting and in total self-interest and all at the expense of the American consumer.
I'm sure there are lots of reasons for the price of gasoline being so high (increasing worldwide demand, incapacity of refineries, government regulation, taxes, etc.), but I'm not sure I've heard any explanations concerning the lack of common courtesy. Maybe the two are related, maybe not. One thing I do know, however, I was a lot happier - and more productive, too - when my gasoline bills weren't so ginormous.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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