Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas

Jersey Girls Don't Pump Gas

Have you heard?  I’m a southern belle now, y’all.

I’ve left the land of landfills and urban sprawl for quieter pastures.  For a quiet island, to be specific.

It’s a different world down here.  I haven’t found a decent slice of pizza since I’ve ventured below the Mason Dixon line,  but I’ve seen more gun and ammo shops than Snooki’s seen the inside of Seaside Heights motel rooms.

I like island life, yet it means if I need something more than a kayak rental, I have to drive for it.  The only game in town is a Walmart, and by town, I mean the next town.  I’m talking a 9 mile drive, ya’ll (I say ya’ll now a lot, people).  Back in Jersey, do you know how many stores I could trip over in a 9 miles stretch?  Or pizza places?

I drive to that Walmart a lot.

Which means my car almost always needs gas.

But what’s with this pumping your own gas thing?  We don’t have to do that back in Jersey.

It’s not that we Jersey girls aren’t willing to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.   If you’ve watched The Sopranos, then you know we Jersey girls specialize in dirty.

Plus, a Jersey girl can do anything.  We’re smart.  We’re sassy.  We’re tough.  We’re genetically wired to throw down.   Even a yoga practicing, peace advocating, believer in love for all mankind like me can throw down.  It’s in my Jersey DNA.

We just don’t pump our own gas.

It has nothing to do with not wanting to ruin our manicures.  It’s the law people, plain and simple.

Since 1949, there has been a self-service gas ban in the State of New Jersey, enacted to protect consumers and gas station owners from potentially deadly accidents.

My best guess?  These potentially deadly accidents have been linked to the flammability of hair spray.

Because everybody knows that no self-respecting Jersey girl goes anywhere without a big ass can of Aqua Net.

Whatever the origin of the law may be, the bottom line is that this whole pumping gas thing doesn’t come naturally to me.

And even though I may not see a proper slice of pizza until Thanksgiving, during my first planned trip back to the great Garden State, I can’t wait that long to fill up my tank.

I keep getting it wrong.  I lift the nozzle before swiping my credit card or more than once, I’ve opted for the wrong grade of gas.  I put the fuel dispenser back crooked or not at all.

Sometimes, I can’t dispense the fuel, even when I press the lever.

Sometimes, when the self-serve system has me utterly confused, I fasten my gas cap and drive to a different station.

But I’ll keep trying.

I have a Walmart to get to.

I have a new life to adjust to.

If this is my biggest growing pain, I’ll take it.

If you were wondering, things are good.  We’re finding our way around.  Although a full tank of gas would help with that, for sure.

I could get used to it here.

Although no matter where I live, a piece of my heart will always belong to Cory Booker.

And while I’m not quite as crushy over Chris Christie as I am for the Mayor of Newark, I think the governor and I could have a crazy good time together.

Sharing a pizza, that is.

But make no mistakes, I’d have no trouble throwing him down for the last slice.

Namaste, y’all.


Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas — 85 Comments

    • Oh, Kerstin, your comment made me smile so! And yes, I will put up some more pics soon – of something besides my looking utterly confused by a gas pump! And congrats on your last day of work! xxoo

    • I heard Oregon has the same law! When I looked up the specifics of the NJ law, I came across that information! And Walmart? I’m there almost every day. It didn’t take long!

  1. And THERE IT IS!!! SO FREAKING funny!!!! But seriously- this parts of town needs some good PIZZA!!!! You’ve got the need and the market girl! Now for the dream to unfold. Just sayin’…

    I had NO idea that you girls don’t pump gas in Jersey! That is so stinkin’ crazy! Well I know that you are gonna be juuuuuuuust fine, my lady! Ya’ll gonna be just splendid!

    (I went swimming with the kids tonight- needed the water and the fun, or I would have called you! Will try again SOON. LOVE you so much I could SQUEEZE that picture!!)
    Chris Carter recently posted…Live deeply. Find Your Riches In The Every Day…My Profile

    • I may have to open a pizza place if we stay. And a gas station that offers full service. Miss you girl! But I totally understand needing the water! Talk soon!

  2. So glad to hear everything is going good. I love pizza not sure if I can go without it. Pumping my own gas never had to because I am a true jersey girl. I don’t mind Walmart.

    • We are both true Jersey girls my friend! I went to college for two years out of state, but I think I had other people pump gas for me the whole time! You would not like the pizza choices here at all. I may have to take Colette up on her offer and have her send a pizza down to me!

  3. So great to hear you are settling in nicely! Such a funny post – aqua net! lol! I drive to a specific gas station that I know that is full service (most are self serve around here too). I go out of my way to go to full serve; I plan my route accordingly. Who wants to pump gas??
    Leah Davidson recently posted…Heading to the Outer BanksMy Profile

    • Hey, Leah, I hope you’re enjoying your vacation! And yeah, the Aqua net is crazy in New Jersey. Moreso 20 years ago, but still a little bit now, depending on the area! If they ever reversed the self service law, they would have to have signs at the pumps about hairspray!

    • It’s Aqua Net Michelle! Us Jersey girls and our big, teased out hair are causing you that grief! Thanks for your good wishes. So far so good here!

    • That’s crazy that you can’t find good pizza in LA. Rural NC is one thing, but LA? Especially with all of the New York transplants there! But I don’t think it matters how long I live down here. I will NEVER get used to not having good pizza!

    • I love saying “y’all!” And thanks for the vote of confidence on the gas. One way or another, I’ll get used to it!

  4. I have to tell you – there are certain things in life that I never get used to. It’s some sort of block and each time is clumsy and awkward like the first time with these things. I’m happy to say, that pumping gas is not one of those things, despite my fears it would be. Who knows why. I have found great pizza in MA too, but there are certain things.. You can take me out of Jersey, but certain loves and appreciations stay lifelong.
    Tamara recently posted…Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party: No Kids Allowed.My Profile

    • I love loving New Jersey from afar – does that make sense to you? I’m thinking it might. It’s nuts to live there, but there are so many New Jersey-isms that only another New Jerseyan truly understands. And finding good pizza outside of NY/NJ is like gold. I’m happy for you for that!

  5. You are hilarious, Ilene. I remember being in training for the Hotdogger program with a Jersey girl. When it came time to drive the Wienermobile, she was terrified of pumping her own gas. We had to walk her through it. My husband, on the other hand, gets in trouble every time we’re in New Jersey for pumping his own gas. Every. Time.

    Glad to hear you are settling in. Maybe your next endeavor will be to open a pizza joint in NC!
    another jennifer recently posted…Philanthropy Friday: Blogging for a CauseMy Profile

    • I can sympathize with your fellow hotdogger! I have literally driven away from pumps that are too confusing for me! It’s hilarious since we tend to be such a tough crowd in NJ, that a gas pump makes us flinch!

  6. I remember the first timing pumping my own gas, out of the safety net that is the full-service New Jersey Gas stations, I was so proud of myself. Course, when I told my dad (who did not grow up in Jersey), he started making fun of me. But seriously, when you learn to drive in a state that forbids you from pumping your own gas, it’s a bit of a shock when you leave home. Glad to hear you are settling into your new home, I look forward to hearing more about it. (And I hope you find some good pizza!)
    Bev @ Linkouture recently posted…The (Unofficial) User’s Guide to FreecycleMy Profile

    • I’m proud of you because I know how foreign it feels to pump gas on your own for the first time living in a full service state! Thank you for your well wishes – on our move and on the pizza. Oh, how I miss good pizza…

  7. OMG love this line: “These potentially deadly accidents have been linked to the flammability of hair spray.”

    I can’t believe you don’t pump your own gas in Jersey? I’m certain I’ve pumped gas in that state before! No? Too funny. Glad you’re finding your grove y’all:-)
    Allie Burdick recently posted…10 THOUGHTS ON THEME PARKSMy Profile

    • If you pumped gas in Jersey, my friend, you were breaking the law! And they are strict about it! And yeah, we Jersey girls and our hair and our hairspray. We could set the world on fire with it. Literally!

    • If your gyspy heart and soul like it here, then I can like it here too! And right now, I’m still in the romance stage with all of the “ya’lls.”

  8. Oh – this made me smile!!! I’m the opposite – the summer we spent several weeks in NJ, the first time someone came out to pump my gas (after I had already started) I couldn’t figure out what the deal was!

    Regardless of the troubles – you arms look amazing in that picture!
    Kim recently posted…Friday Funnies Are Back!!My Profile

    • Oh, if you try to pump your own gas in New Jersey, they will come after your quick! And thanks about the arms! I credit that to yoga – and a good camera angle 🙂

  9. So true! Every year when I drive to Florida I wonder why NJ has the only civilized gas pumps. My mom was just laughing at me in Maine when I thought there was something wrong with my gauge since I had just pumped a full tank but it still read empty. Turns out that whole keep squeezing the handle thing eluded me. Needless to say she got to pump it until we safely re-entered NJ! Glad to hear you are settling in. We miss you guys!

    • I’ve done that at these pumps too! Where I’m squeezing and nothing is coming out…Miss F. dies laughing every time we go for gas. She’s offered to pump for me and she has about a million photos of my looking just as confused as I look in the one above. Miss you too, honey! I loved finding you in my comment thread! xo

  10. 1) Let me know if you ever find a decent pizza. I don’t think they exist down here
    2) It’s more that you’ve traded urban for rural as far as tripping over stores. I doubt Montgomery has as many shops as anyplace Jersey, but we’ve got far more than your island. (The island sounds preferrable to me at so many levels)
    3) We nearly got our asses arrested the one time we tried to pump our own gas in Jersey. We didn’t see the signs, or else maybe thought they were designed to run up the price of gas, since full service in the midwest is always more expensive than self serv, and my husband had a discussion with the proprietor.
    Jester Queen recently posted…A Letter To The EditorMy Profile

    • I am being told more and more that I have to let go of the idea of finding good pizza. And I agree – that it’s definitely an urban vs. rural thing. I know there are even parts of NJ where you have to drive 9 miles to a Walmart! And yeah – they are serious about the self serve gas ban in NJ! The government has tried to reverse this a ton of times, but as of right now, New Jersey is winning that one. New Jersey always wins. They know how to throw down!

  11. Oh! And brainwash your kids NOW to say “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” to avoid catching holy hell from the grownups. If they merely say “Yes” or “No”, complete strangers will prompt them with “Yes, what?” to remind them to stick in that “Ma’am”or “Sir”, and the fact that they’ve never in their lives had to do this will NOT spare them from being thought rude by the locals.
    Jester Queen recently posted…A Letter To The EditorMy Profile

    • That is great advice and something I had not heart before! I thank you for that now and I’m sure I’ll thank you for it again one day!

  12. I had no idea that you don’t pump your own gas in Jersey. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself! I’ve been pumping gas since I was a teenager. I will say I have lived in some pretty rural towns, and it was always a drive to get ANYWHERE. Thankfully we moved somewhere that is only 5-10 mins from anything. I have spent my whole like driving 40 mins to get to a store or nice restaurant. But sounds like your drive might not be so far…and well you have a beach so that always helps. Glad to hear you’re getting settled in! 🙂
    Natalie recently posted…Gettin’ My Sew OnMy Profile

    • I’m almost feeling “lucky” to have the Walmart nearby! But the drive for a variety of stores, ie, Target, Costco, malls etc is about 50 minutes in any direction. It’s gorgeous here though and it may be worth the trade off!

  13. I love you and I’ve missed you!!!! I have always pumped my own gas and even used to pump it for my mom when I was little (that sounds so wrong!) but it’ll get easier…I know how you feel about the whole Wal-Mart thing…our closest Wal-Mart is over 124 miles away – Target 130 – KMart is closer -it’s 30 Miles on either side of the island I live on so I usually end up there depending on whether I’m going North or South – and I HATE K-Mart…so atleast 9 miles isn’t too bad considering some other locations 😉 Oh and yeah, finding a shop that is not lifestyle based is hard. I think we have more bait & tackle, fishing, marine shops than clothing shops in our little Island…welcome to small town living my dear!! 🙂

    • Wow! I didn’t realize you were that removed from civilization where you are! So, I guess I need to count my lucky stars for this Walmart! No lie. I’ve seen it almost every day this week. Thank goodness I can manage to pump gas – even though it’s awkward!

  14. Yeah, sorry about the pizza thing. That won’t really get better. You’ll adjust to our “pizza” after 15 or 20 years. (I’ve heard it’s the same for bagels, too)
    But I must say I am BAFFLED that it’s a law you don’t pump gas in NJ. WHAT? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’ve lived all over the South and in Missouri and the Midwest and never heard of this!!! EVERYWHERE IS FULL SERVICE??!! This is rocking my world. The only thing that gets me half way dressed appropriately (read: not in yoga pants and a t-shirt with a hole) is that I have to get out, and pump gas from time to time and I don’t want to be embarrassed. You can’t even FIND full-service here, even if you are willing to pay for it. How have I never lived in a place where they make you have full service? I may have to rethink my life choices. –Lisa

  15. It’s crazy, Lisa, right? That it’s actually against the law? NJ and Oregon are the only two states that have the ban. Governor Christie tried to get hit reversed around a year ago, but it didn’t pass. Um…maybe it’s because you’re in a much more metropolitan part of the state than I am, but yoga pants and a t-shirt with a hole in it have been my normal wear since I’ve moved down here. Check out that photo of me above, sister. I’m wearing a faded tank top with a stain on it! And thought nothing of using it for this post!

  16. Glad you are settling in to your new home and town. I always wondered why you couldn’t pump your own gas in New Jersey. I always pump my own, but I have to say it’s a treat when I’m at a rest stop in NJ and I’m not allowed to do it – I feel a little spoiled!
    Dana recently posted…Siri is stupidMy Profile

  17. So funny! I always thought it was labor laws that kept it self-service. I’m always secretly relieved I don’t have to get out and do it myself. Does that make me a bad person???

    Glad to hear you are settling in. I still can’t believe you actually did it. I’ve been threatening the same for years; I don’t know if I’d have the guts.

    Deb @ Urban Moo Cow recently posted…Dream DeferredMy Profile

    • No, Deb! It doesn’t make you a bad person at all! I think I’ll love the full serve more than ever when I return to visit there! Except as an impatient New Jerseyan, it’s a little but torturous to have to wait to have someone else pump for you. Once I figure out this self serve thing, I think I’ll appreciate not having to wait on someone else!

  18. The look on your face in that photo is SO awesome!

    I’m sorry about the pizza, that must be really hard. I still miss REAL Tex-Mex since moving from Texas to Louisiana. But now I like gumbo too so… 😉
    Elaine A. recently posted…Just Playin’My Profile

    • Ha! That is how I’ve looked every time I’ve gone for gas since we’ve arrived here! I’m glad you’ve taken to gumbo in lieu of real Tex Mex. Maybe that’s what I need to do to ease the blow of bad pizza…find some authentic local dish to take its place…but then again, can anything take the place of good pizza?

  19. Hey Ilene! You’re back and somewhat adjusting I see! This was so awkward to read. I had NO IDEA. there was such law. In my two week rotation of working and being off, I pump gas 3 times!!! I remember when I was a little girl & the stations were full service. Then I remember it phased out & I always hated when my Mother got back in the car smelling like gas. I’d love that Jersey law enacted, I would not mind to tip for it either. I absolutely despise pumping it!

    Welcome to the South! Glad you incorporated y’all I to your dialect so soon 🙂 I am sorry about the pizza. I love pizza…all kinds. We have a few spots that are kinda good, hope you find one.
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted…Q & A: Health & Fitness – You Are Not a Victim to Your HairMy Profile

    • That gas smell is pretty awful. A friend of mine suggested I keep baby wipes in the car to get it off my hands and I’m going to have to do that! So far so good down here, Joi. Thanks for the welcome! And yeah, I love the “y’alls.” They’re quire charming!

  20. I’ve missed you! That picture is priceless. Love it and this. So glad to hear that you are doing well – and y’all fits you I have to say. It’s been interesting adjusting to life on the islands here too. Everything moves so.much.slower. xox can’t wait to hear more.

    • I’ve missed you too! And yes, I can relate to things moving more slowly where you are and where I am as well! It’s so much in my Jersey DNA to be in a hurry…I wonder if that will adjust just like this adjustment to pumping my own gas. Can’t wait to catch up more soon. xo

  21. Oh, how I have missed you, my friend! So glad to hear you are settling in and I have to say, I laughed so hard at this post. The Aqua Net cracked me because it is the same with Chicago girls. 🙂 I have always pumped my own gas and I absolutely hate doing it. I’d so much rather Leo do it and as soon as Nico gets his license, he’s doing it so I don’t have to.
    AnnMarie recently posted…I’m Ready to Tell: Exciting NewsMy Profile

    • Oh, Ann Marie! Something tells me we could have a crazy good time looking at old photos of each other with big hair! The irony is that my hair is much bigger when I leave it alone these days than if I tried to spray it. Like it’s gotten curlier and poofier with age. Too bad we don’t live closer to one another, because I’d have Leo or Nico pump my gas too! xo

  22. I live in a smaller town and our last full service station just died. But I didn’t use it because it costs so much more. I honestly don’t remember the last time I didn’t pump my own gas. I may have to move. To NJ so I can spare myself extreme temperatures.

    Glad you’re adjusting to your new location. I love small communities.
    Carla recently posted…Why You Should Ditch Your Laptop for a TabletMy Profile

    • I remember from my two years of college in DC that full service was so much more than self serve! There was one station by school whose pump I managed to figure out, otherwise, I had to make sure I had a friend with me to help pump. I’m not sure if NJ is worth the move for full service gas, but it’s definitely worth the move for the pizza!

    • Given I’ve been to Walmart 5 times in the past 7 days, I think that qualifies me a full fledged Wal-martian. I think I’ll fit in swimmingly, especially since I’ve always considered deodorant and toothpaste optional.

      Oh no she didn’t! I did.

  23. Full service gas stations are hard to come by where I come from. (I can think of only 1.)
    I was intimidated by gas stations at first, but I got the hang of it. Although sometimes I still get outside to discover that I haven’t flicked the gas door switch, so I have to go back and open it before I can start.
    Hope you find good pizza soon. Good pizza is essential. 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Last CallMy Profile

    • I am so glad I don’t have a switch for my gas door. That would be simply another layer of confusion! Good pizza is essential Kim. Thank you for recognizing this! I may have to get it shipped down to me from NJ – or put up a brick oven in my back yard! 🙂

    • In Jersey, you’d get dirty looks from the attendants no matter what, even if you wren’t trying to pump yourself! It’s what we do there! We love a good confrontation!

  24. The look on your face is classic. It says it I wish they would bring back full service or at least make it an option again. I hate pumping gas. I do it because I have to. I only refill when the gas light comes on (which makes the actual process of pumping take longer). I guess you’ll get used to it as a necessity…but it’s ok, you don’t have to like it…I never will.
    Glad you are doing well. And by Thanksgiving, you’re gonna just LOVE whatever pizza you’re able to sink your teeth into.
    Hope recently posted…My Disney World HighlightsMy Profile

    • I can’t wait for Jersey pizza. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the pizza down here – I’ll definitely get used to pumping gas before I get used to the pizza!

  25. Just catching up after being on vacation. Love everything about this post, especially this line: These potentially deadly accidents have been linked to the flammability of hair spray.

    It’s funny because the first time I drove through New Jersey, I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t let us pump our own gas. We were like, seriously, y’all, we’ve got this!

    So glad you’re getting settled. Can’t wait to hear more!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Maine Vacation HighlightsMy Profile

    • Welcome back from vacation Nicole! It’s so funny how the pumping gas thing comes so naturally to y’all (gosh, I love saying that now!) but throws me every time. I swear I’m sending my 9 year old out next time to do it for me!

    • No pumping gas! You know, California has such crazy laws that I’m surprised you pump your own. And the pizza thing? Yeah – It’s going to be a tough one to make it to Thanksgiving!

    • Oh, Steph! Getting out to pump your own gas is guaranteed to get you thrown down in NJ! I think whichever way you have it, it’s habit. I’m kind of wishing that if I sit in my car long enough here in front of a pump someone will come out of that attendant’s office and just do it for me. 🙂 Yes, so far so good down here…except for the pizza and the gas!

  26. Glad to hear you are getting settled… and OMGoodness, I laughed when I saw your post title… I was so busy warning you about the pizza that I forgot about the gas thing. I take bizarre pleasure when driving through Jersey at stopping and having someone pump my gas for me… and it’s usually cheaper the DE or NY! 🙂

    Come visit Andrea and I and we can take you to a few ‘passable’ pizza places!
    Single Mom in the South recently posted…When You Run Out of Things to SayMy Profile

    • Yes! The irony about New Jersey is that we have on of the cheaper gas txes in the nation, even though everything else is so darned expansive! And yea- what’s with this pizza down here???

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