#727 Letting go of the gas pump at just the right moment

the right tool for the jobI hate $19.98.

When I’m pumping my car full of that sweet-smelling black gold, I get tense when I’m two cents away from a nice, round number. Maybe I’ve got a twenty dollar bill in my pocket or maybe I’m throwing it on a credit card. Either way, I just can’t be that satisfied with a $20.01 pump. If I hit $20.03 or $20.04, it’s like I wasn’t even paying attention. Call me The Big Squeeze at that point, because I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.

Not the same thing at allBut if the opposite happens, if I tap that handle ever so sweetly and let a little thimble of gasoline drip into my tank so the numbers curl up to twenty bucks even, then it’s time to high-five the passengers, call the papers, and get ready for a beautifully changeless transaction.

For a split-second you transform.

Gone is mom driving the kids home from ballet, gone is the pizza driver doing a quick fill before midnight, gone is the sweaty suit pumping a fast one before riding the expressway to the office downtown.

Obviously a ninja

Gone, gone, they’re all just gone.

Passers-by will squint at those pumps and swear they noticed something. Kids staring out the back of the station wagon will turn to each other and drop their jaws. Later on, newspaper reporters will write down eye-witness accounts from old folks on the porch across the street. “It must have been my imagination,” they’ll say. “But I swear I saw someone dressed all in black.”

People, if you let go of the gas pump at just the right moment, they’re talking about you.

Because you are The Pump Ninja.


Twenty bucks? I'm on it

Photos from: here, here, and here

42 thoughts on “#727 Letting go of the gas pump at just the right moment

  1. I don’t drive or pump gas but that sounds like the sweet justice of “Just in the nick of time”! :-D That is awesome, truly awesome.

    PS – First post! omg.

    1. Canada.

      As a full-serve employee, it’s also an awesome moment when someone is actually, genuinely impressed when I get it right on the dollar.

    2. even at pay-first stations, you can still get this by authorizing your credit card at the pump; it only charges at the end.

    1. ooh, that’s an advanced maneuver. and there’s arguably more at stake even, because who remembers the second battle of hastings in 1067? nobody, that’s who.

        1. Significant dates are harder now that gas is over $2.70 a gallon. Yesterday I filled up and it cost $35.82. Let’s see, what significant event happened that year?

  2. Unfortunately where I live, about a year and a half ago they decided that we should half to pay before we pump. Stopping at exactly the right time is a lot less awesome when a machine does it automatically for you because that’s all you payed for.

  3. @ Dylan: Well that’s no fun. :(

    There’s something far too satisfying about getting it right on the money.

  4. it concerns me that you’re pumping oil (“black gold”) into your gas tank….

    last time i checked, gasoline was clear!

    I always go 1 cent over. I once had my credit card stolen and they used it for gas (just swipe and pump!) and they always rounded to the exact dollar so that it would ‘blend’ into my other credit card gasoline transactions.

    now that i go at least 1 cent over, i know that if i see an even $xx.00 gas charge on my card, it wasn’t me!

  5. I like pumping 23cents and going in to pay with a hundy dollar bill. Show those oil tykes who thief really messing with.

  6. Yesterday I didn’t read this story just the headline, but when I was at the gas station at the evening something remarkable happened: I filled up my car without looking at the figures and when it stopped automatically it was 70.00 Euro even! For real it was a no-look-even!! Totally crazy, it happened on the day you wrote this article, DOUBLE-AWESOME!

  7. Haha, whenever I overshoot the round number I’m aiming for, I always add enough so it that doesn’t look like I was trying to hit that number on the button.

    I’d rather go inside and pay my $21.62 then sheepishly fork over $20.02.

  8. Here in Australia we’ve got rid of our 1 and 2 cent coins, and they either have to round up or round down your payment.

    So it’s $20.02 on the dot for me, for the free 2 cents of petrol.

  9. I’m not sure if I should admit this in public (albeit anonymously) but this is probably the only awesome thing from the site I have not experienced. I am from New Jersey and have never encountered this phenomena because full-service gas stations are illegal. I’ve lived in other cities but rely solely on public transportation. For shame!

    I’ll have to live vicariously through all you gas pump-wielding mavericks.

  10. One day when I was with my brother when he stopped to get gas and the pump automatically clicked off exactly on the dollar. He was so excited, but then commented that he was sad he used up his one time so soon.

  11. I live in South Africa, and here we dont pump our own petrol. As a result when the petrol attendant goes over it is basically free gas (you asked for R20 (rand = SA currency) so they cannot charge you for the extra).
    I am almost certain I have, on more than one occasion, rolled into the station with the gas light burning like the Christmas coke truck with only that few cents of gas in my tank.
    Thank you free few cents of gas, you are…

    Screwing the gas companies in a way only described as

  12. I love when that happens because if u go over and u don’t have the extra 3cents ouuuuuuuu that sucks

  13. Happens pretty often for me :) although I technically can’t drive, no liscence, it doesn’t matter in my home town so that’s why I drive haha awesome!

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