#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


Filed under Uncategorized

42 responses to “#727 Letting go of the gas pump at just the right moment

  1. Dan

    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.

  2. You must live in one of those states or go to a gas station where you pump first, then pay. NY’s always been pay-first as far as I know.

  3. Otherwise known as the “perfect pump”!

  4. vim

    I like to do significant dates from history.

    • francisco

      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.

  5. Dylan

    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.

  6. Ian

    @ Dylan: Well that’s no fun. :(

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

  7. I consider myself the pump ninja and feel like a super hero if the tank fills up and stops by itself at $20. Its like winning at a slot machine!


  8. uber

    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!

  9. No matter how right on you get it, you still have to look up at the final price and realize that you just got hosed by some oil tycoon. Awesomeness in this case, is brief and fleeting.

  10. Ago

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

  11. That is talent all must see.

  12. komatzu

    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!

  13. Lmao- you are effing funny.
    I love your writing style.

  14. 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.

  15. j.

    better: not having to get out of your car to pump gas. yay oregon :)

  16. Mark

    The pump ninja. That just cracked me up.

    Great post, Neil.

  17. andrew

    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.

  18. SwiftEdge

    Getting £40.40 for 40.44 litres on pump number 4 did it for me.

  19. Isabelle

    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.

  20. Nikki

    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.

  21. Deadmoon

    I still try to get even numbers even though I always use the debit card nowadays.

  22. David

    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

  23. Only 20$ to fuel your car?
    I pay 70€ for a refuel (+100$)
    Anyway, i nail 70.00 € every single time!

  24. wendywithaurora

    There should be a prize for spot on the money!

  25. Bobby

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

  26. Lina chaker

    Can’t drive yet but I can already feel how awesome it would be! 

  27. Boby

    Omg the ninja!!!!! Win cuz im aninja :) <3

  28. Stephanie

    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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  32. Lizzerella

    Ah, the rare but wonderful joy of the OCD.

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