I keep planning to glue some sort of patterned paper over the covers of the Beatrix Potter boxed set I got for my son at a thrift store last year. Normally I would never defile Potter's lovely artwork in this way, but this particular boxed set was printed by BP.

Yep, that BP.

Now why, you might ask, would an oil and gas company want to print children's books with their logo emblazoned on a bold green stripe across the bottom of the cover? Surely they aren't just thrilled with the fortuitous coincidence of initials, and kids don't buy oil and gas, do they? Well, no - not yet - but their parents sure do, and it can't hurt sales to have thousands of little children clamoring to look at your logo every night. So, being a conscientious pinko-commie-tree-embracing-whacko, I keep planning to glue something over that logo. I'm not going to let some fascist, ground-sucking, earth-defiling multinational corporation into my son's brain just yet if I can help it. So there.

Except... except there is a BP just up the road from my house where I always buy my gas, and my reasoning has nothing to do with those books (I promise). It's the closest station, to be sure, and it's on my way to work, but I will go out of my way to buy gas there. I will flip the petcock on my motorcycle over to reserve and pass two other gas stations, rolling into that BP on fumes, just so I can buy my gas there. And why? Because of people.

Most mornings I fill up there, there are three or four good 'ol southern boys standing around the register, sipping coffee and telling jokes. Dumb jokes, usually, but also generally clean ones, out of respect for the ladies who work the register. They pause their jokes and they say "Hi" to me. They're friendly, and so are the ladies at the register. Maybe it's the fact that the station itself is a bit run-down. Maybe it's because we're out here in the boondogs a bit. But whatever the case, the people are friendly.

They also don't make me pre-pay. I pull up to the pump, open my tank, flip the handle, and whomever the register lady happens to be will lean back, peak out the window, and turn it on for me. She won't do this for just anybody. She knows me, though, so she turns the pump on. This is especially nice because I've got no gas gauge on my bike, so I have to use the odometer to guesstimate the fuel level. This way, I don't have to go through the annoying process of trying to guess how much gas will fill the bike and then going back a second time for my change when I get it wrong.  Sure, I could go to another station where the pumps are all modern and let me pre-pay with a card, but I like buying things from human beings, and the human beings at the BP station up the road make it a pleasant experience.

So maybe I won't color over their logo. Not just yet.


  1. Dude. Great picture you've painted with words. I know the BP you're talking about, though I've never stopped there for gas.

    Here in South Africa, they still pump the gas for you, so you don't have to pre-pay here either, although the guy who's just pumped your gas gives you a look that you know is saying he has 12 children and a wife to care for at home, and couldn't you just spare that extra change you have in your pocket?

  2. I would like to point out that even though I wrote this post before BP went and dumped a bajillion barrels of oil just off the gulf coast, I still think the principle holds - peoples is peoples, and it's important to remember that even soulless corporations are staffed at all levels by real, live, human beings.

  3. Yeah for relationships! Great writing! MLB


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