With the arrival of the new year, states across the nation are seeing the enactment of a new batch of laws. This annual tradition almost always brings some news of the bizarre sort and what better place to look than Oregon? The home of Keep Portland Weird woke up to a brave new world where people will be allowed (in some limited circumstances) to pull into a service station, get out of their vehicle and, horror of horrors… pump their own gasoline. Needless to say, this news was received with the same level of calm, reasoned discourse that you’d see at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse. (Washington Post)

Under House Bill 2482, which took effect Monday, retailers in counties with a population of less than 40,000 are allowed to have self-service gas pumps. Drivers in 15 counties can now pump their own gas any time of day, while those in three other rural counties can do so after business hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The Internet machine roared, fueled by a local TV station’s now-viral Facebook post asking people to react to the new law. Some commenters were angry and perturbed by the possibility of having to pump their own gas in the cold, while those from other states scoffed.

I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian . . . I say NO THANKS! I don’t like to smell like gasoline!” one woman wrote on KTVL’s Facebook post.

The other responses at the local news station’s Facebook page are hilarious. They include the usual cries of ‘but think of the children‘ as well as the elderly, disabled and anyone else who might have trouble getting in or out of their vehicle. And what’s with the 62-year-old guy who doesn’t “even know HOW to pump gas.” If that’s not one of your personal life experiences I’m perfectly willing to accept the premise, but have you ever seen your gas station attendant do it? We’re not talking about a skill set equal to prepping the space shuttle for launch here, guy. You pick the sort of gas you want, open the little access door on your car, lift up a nozzle, stick it in the hole and squeeze the handle. True, you do have to enter some information on the pump if you’re paying outside and probably swipe your card, but do you know how to use your phone? Do you ever go shopping? If you answered yes to both of these questions I think you can handle it.

The conversation never really should have made it that far to begin with, honestly. They didn’t pass a law mandating that you pump your own gas. They just made it legal for gas stations to allow you to in certain rural areas. Some stations will no doubt remain full service by choice. Others, like most places here in New York (where we’ve been pumping our own gas forever), will either have one lane designated as full service where you pay a bit more or you can pull up to a pump and blow your horn. Someone will be along shortly to pump it for you.

This is one of those marvels of capitalism in action, Oregonians! Stations with self-service don’t have to pay an attendant to man all the pumps, thereby saving money and allowing them to drop their prices and be more competitive. Are you allergic to saving money? And if you’d rather pay a bit more and have someone else do it, you can have that option too. Seriously, folks… what the heck is wrong with Oregon?