Comebacks we'd like to see: #13 -- Gas station attendants

This post is part of our series ranking the top 25 bygone products and trends we'd like to see return.

When I visit my family in New Jersey, where I grew up, there are a two things I always do before I head back to my home in Connecticut: I stop at the local farm stand for fresh produce and I fill up my tank with gas.

Correction: a gas station attendant fills up my tank with gas, which right now, is 50 cents per gallon cheaper than in Connecticut, even though it's full-serve. That's because a state law enacted in 1949 bans self-service gas stations in New Jersey. According to Infoplease, Oregon is the only other state with such a law, purportedly enacted to prevent accidents. My understanding is that the New Jersey law has survived several challenges over the years, but defenders have argued that lifting the ban would be unfair to disabled people and unsafe for the elderly, and people who've grown accustomed to full-serve might do something dangerous like light up a cigarette while filling their tank.

I realize that these are antiquated laws and the 48 other states seem to be getting along fine with self-serve gas stations, but I have to admit that I really miss full-service gas stations. Since I left home for college more than two decades ago, I have lived in Massachusetts, California, New York, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. With the exception of New York, where I didn't do much driving, I've pumped my own gas, and I consider it a nuisance, especially in the winter.

Last weekend, not only did the attendant fill up my tank, he washed my windows! Sometimes they even ask if I'd like to have my oil checked. Then I had another nostalgic moment: When the attendant handed me my receipt, he called me sweetie. Never mind that he was old and unshaven (more gross than grunge), and chauvinistic, gas station attendants would be a welcome return-especially if I'm paying $4 a gallon.

What services do you rue the passing of?

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