Full Service Gas Station
A stop at most gas stations today means little to no real customer service; you just swipe your card, fill up, and drive off. But like me, you might remember when a refueling stop meant being greeted by a gas station attendant, who not only did the fill up, but checked under the hood, and even washed the windows. Today such full-service stations are few and far between, but they’re still out there, and our FYI reporter Lauren Morrison found one just around the corner from MotorWeek.
LAUREN MORRISION: “A 1954 Hudson Super Jet, an outfit like this, and a full service gas station. Yes, you’re still in the 21st century.”
But at Charlies Service Station in Randallstown, Maryland
a piece of the past….
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “Yes sir, can we help you?”
LAUREN MORRISION: Manages to put the present in perspective.
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “Everybody is in such a fast pace. Here, there, home, work, home, work.”
LAUREN MORRISION: Chris Brocato has been pushing petrol for as long as he can remember. His father opened up shop in 1971.
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “It was an ESSO, then it turned Exxon, and then Exxon pulled out of their little stations and we became independent.”
LAUREN MORRISION: When his father passed away, Chris took over.
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “I figured he raised his family on it, I could raise my family on it. Sometimes it’s been tough, but sometimes its’ been good.”
LAUREN MORRISION: With the years, have come changes….
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “I mean cash now is something that you don’t see very much anymore. Everybody’s credit cards. Everybody lives off credit cards.”
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “18 and a quarter today.”
LAUREN MORRISION: Whether it’s cash or credit, full service seems to come down to one thing…
“Chris, what is the most important part about running a full service gas station? Customer service, it’s the most important. So, it’s not the outfit?? Probably not. I can probably get out of this? It’s pretty hot.”
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “Here, we still talk to people. We know about their families, their histories. You just move on and grow with the families that come in here. You know them all.”
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: Yes dear, how are you?
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “What their lives are doing, changing, how their kids are growing up, going different places, moving on.”
LAUREN MORRISION: As the traffic speeds by, Chris’ customers know that for a look back…
“Does it kind of take you back…yes…(laughing) yes, way back!”
LAUREN MORRISION: Or a time out, they only need to pull in.
STEPHANIE PROUKOU: “I love the fact that I can roll up in the midst of a hectic day, or the beginning of that I know will be a hectic day, full of appointments and deadlines and things I have to take care of and someone just takes care of this for me.”
LAUREN MORRISION: The U.S. Census Bureau puts the number of gas stations across the country at a little less than 115,000, a number that’s been on the decline for decades. While there are no breakdowns on full service figures, except for a few places where there are restrictions on pumping your own gas, it’s not hard to see on your daily drive that full service has fallen to the way side.
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “When they see full service, a lot of people don’t know what that is, especially younger generation, they don’t know what it is.”
LAUREN MORRISION: Today’s gas and go world does make it hard to pump the brakes…
CHRISTOPHER BROCATO: “Yeah, that’s all our lives are about anymore, work, work, work. Alright, you take care now.”
LAUREN MORRISION: But with willing customers…
“I love that you pump my gas for me, are you kidding me?!”
LAUREN MORRISION: There’s no hanging up the full service station just yet.