The Downside of Diesel

I love love love love love my TDI Jetta. I love my 40+ mpg. I love getting more than 500 miles on a tank before my gas light comes on. I love knowing that when the gas light comes on I still have nearly 100 miles before I actually run out of gas. But… I HATE hate hate hate going to the gas station with a diesel car. First of all, my choices in where to fill up are very limited. I have to be aware of which stations even carry diesel, which can mean driving around for a while when I’m out of town (good thing I get that extra 100 miles!). Once I find a station which offers diesel, I then have to hunt for a diesel pump. I can’t just pull up to any open pump, oh no. In general, so I’ve found, only about a quarter of the pumps at a station have diesel. And sometimes they hide the diesel pump behind the building! (Although this last configuration doesn’t bother be so much once I find it – you’re about to see why).

My biggest pet peeve when trying to fill my tank is all of the ignorant people. I tend to go to my local Murphy station for the location and price. This particular station has sixteen pumps, four of which offer diesel. It’s a fairly busy station, but there are usually several open pumps at any given moment. But regardless of the number of open pumps, it is almost guaranteed that all four diesel pumps will be occupied by people pumping regular gas into their vehicles. Which means I have to wait, and wait I do. My average gas station trip takes more than twenty minutes! Thank goodness I only need to do this once or twice a month. So I pick a pony a get in line. I sit and wait patiently, ignoring the strange looks I get from people who wonder why I’m not choosing one of the available pumps. The pumper finishes up and starts to leave. Usually at this point I pull up and go about my business. But more often than you would expect, I get hit by the pump sniper.

The pump sniper is the jerk who completely ignores the fact that I’m waiting, floors it past the other open spots that I cannot use, and steals the diesel bearing pump from me. Pump snipers tend to strike when I’m already in a hurry, or otherwise annoyed. They fill me with a murderous rage, especially when they reach for the regular gas hose. When this happens, I begin to fantasize about leaping from my car and strangling them with the gas hose and pummeling them with the big, metal nozzle. This mental image often releases some of my frustration and I scan the station to see if any of the other diesel pumps has cleared.

Once I’m finally positioned in front of a pump, the real problems begin. Diesel pumps are notoriously filthy. I learned quickly to keep hand wipes in my glove box because my hands will inevitably be coated in grime by the time I’m done. It takes several attempts to find the “sweet spot”, that elusive point at which the nozzle finds the precise depth and angle it requires to pump without shutting off every ten seconds. From then on its smooth sailing. I stand without moving a muscle, for fear of slipping out of the sweet spot, and wait as my tank is s-l-o-w-l-y filled. I think diesel must be about as thick as molasses, since it takes an eternity to pump it into my car at every station I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. After I hang the nozzle back on its base, usually fighting with the hose and getting more grime on me, I clean up and get back in the car. I quickly calculate my mpg (that always makes me feel better), reset my trip meter, and I’m finally on my way, vowing to send Chad the next time I’m running low.