Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|No More Free Air!
by Maurice Ali, Journalist
I remember when the "Free Air" notices were laughed at.
Some might say this rant is much about nothing, but sometimes the smallest things have to be noticed. A few weeks ago I noticed that one of my tires was losing air. No problem, as I would just head on to the local gas bar and fill it up. Every gas station had an air pump. However, I was in for a big shock!
Another busted air pump!
Once upon a time the gas station had attendants. You would pull up and a guy would fill the tank with gas, check the tires and clean the windshield and maybe even check the oil. this may sound bizarre to those today as one would pay almost 20 dollars for the "twenty point inspection" that was back then. The air pump were those massive tanks that you could dial up to any pressure you wanted including 60lb spares and shocks. When the oil companies went to self-serve they still carried those old style air pumps.
The "charity air pump!"
A few years later we started to see the cheap box on a pole that just dispenses thirty two pounds and regularly broke down. You had to push a button to get this cranking motor going and hope you got more air than was in the tire. Most did not even have a pressure gauge to check the tire's final pressure. This set up stayed around for quite a few years.
The future of air pumps!
Anyway, back to my story. I started looking for air. Every station in my area had those cheap air dispensers and they were all out of order. Some had a sign saying out of order. Some did not, but had no hose (a sure sign it was out of order.....). For a week I could not pump up my tire. Then an interesting thing happened. Those broken pumps were replaced with 50 cent pay pumps! They were nicer than the free pumps with the thick stainless steel construction - but 50 cents! Some stations tried to lessen the shock by claiming some of the money went to charity. Then they just asked for the 50 cents.....
I guess this picture is worth 50 cents!
It now seems that soon almost all air pumps will become vending machines of basically nothing but air. At a time when oil companies are raking in obscene profits, I find it sickening that they would now expect us to pay for air! The world has changed for me. I just thought that I would note this moment of history, small though it may be, and lament the passing of "free air!"