- Since 1951, Oregon and New Jersey have been the only two US states to require gas station attendants to pump people’s gas.
- As of January 1, Oregon residents are now required to do it themselves.
- Some New Jersey residents aren’t taking the news so well, fearing their state could be next on the chopping block.
Shateera Israel doesn’t care if you call her spoiled – the New Jersey native simply isn’t interested in pumping her own gas.
“Besides handling gas station pumps being unsafe and accident-prone, I find them extremely dirty and unsanitary,” the public relations account executive told Business Insider. “The last thing I want to do when I am in a rush or dressed up in my nicer clothes is to have to get out of my car to pump my own gas.”
Israel has a great deal of company in the Garden State, currently the only US state where residents are required by law not to pump their own gas. Following the January 1 news that Oregon would no longer be New Jersey’s only ally in such a law, some New Jerseyans are anxious about the prospect of self-service.
A 1949 law is under threat
In speaking to Business Insider, the most common complaints from New Jerseyans invoked the inconvenience of leaving their car to fill up, the perceived danger involved, and the inevitability of lost jobs.
“These guys work hard for their money and are out in the cold or heat all day and night, similar to what we do on our work sites,” Anthony Rinaldi, CEO of the New Jersey construction firm The Rinaldi Group, told Business Insider. “Many of them have families to support too.”
Before January 1, Oregon and New Jersey were the only two states to have such a law on the books. The product of heavy lobbying from service-station owners, New Jersey’s law first took effect in 1949. Oregon’s law came two years later.
In the half-century since, residents of both states have fought a long-standing battle against people from the other 48 states, who sometimes look upon Oregonians and New Jerseyans as overly timid in performing what seems, to most, like a regular chore of driving.
Not all New Jerseyans necessarily disagree.
“The only time I’ve been thankful I don’t pump my own gas is in the winter,” Erin Fisher, a New Jersey resident, told Business Insider. “Every other time, even in the rain, I feel like it would be faster and more efficient if I did it myself.”
‘We’re all somewhat inherently lazy’
But many New Jersey residents still side with Rinaldi and Israel in not wanting to go the way of the 49 other states. Bill Metzger, account executive at the PR firm 5W, pointed to the luxury of staying put, such as “when you’re at the station and need to respond to an email, text, or just don’t want to get out of the car.”
“Yes, it’s laziness,” he said, “but when people are complaining about their Amazon package not coming in exactly two days for a product that you can easily buy at say a CVS, we’re all somewhat inherently lazy.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed a self-service law in 2009, but was met with vehement disapproval from the public. He last addressed the issue during a 2016 town hall meeting, in which he declared the preference largely one of gender: A poll showed 78% of New Jersey women preferred to stay in their cars, the New York Times reported. He has yet to propose a second measure.
Shateera Israel is perfectly happy with that.
“I myself was actually shocked when I read the news that Oregon will now be allowing residents to pump their own gas,” she said. “On the flip side, it also makes me that much more proud to a Jersey native.”
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