I once enlightened my family and friends back home about the trials of living abroad, especially when it comes to transportation. I told of roundabouts, which I’ve gotten a bit used to and look at with less disdain now. I lamented on my toll booth “walk of shame” to pay the attendant, thanks to my left-side driving car. From there I discussed parking garages, where I experience the same problem obtaining a ticket through the window of the passenger seat almost every day. And now, I will talk about gas stations.
There are a few reasons gas stations make it onto the list of problems I have here in Ireland. First, they are far and few between. It can be so difficult finding a gas station, especially when you really need one. In America, you need only to travel a few exits on the highway before coming across a few oil-pumping machines. They are on nearly every corner, and sometimes, rival companies will plant themselves on all four corners of an intersection. How to choose?! Well, I wish I had that choice now. Back in November, I went down to the Seafield Golf and Spa resort on my birthday to get a massage and enjoy the amenities. On the way home, I noticed I was extremely low on gas. It was a 45 minute drive, and about 30 minutes into it I was having a panic attack. I cursed myself for not filling up before leaving and scanned the horizon desperately. Had there been a toll booth at any point in this drive, I would’ve lost it! But don’t worry, I filled up just in time – across the street from my apartment.
Another reason gas stations boggle my mind: there is no automatic pump switch. You know, the thing that locks in place so you can sit in the car, safe from the heat/cold, playing on your phone, while the tank fills up and then stops automatically once it’s full? Yeah, they don’t have those here. You must stand the entire time holding the pump, watching as the ridiculous price for gas in Ireland creeps towards €80 to fill your small car, shivering in the freezing cold.
Finally, gas stations only recently added the “pay at the pump” option. And there are still a few stations who haven’t. I have been standing in the frigid rain pumping away, only to have to then walk all the way into the station, wait in line, and pay my fee. Ugh! Yesterday, when I stuck my card into the machine outside, I smiled, because at least gas stations have taken one step in the right direction.
Now, I cannot grumble too much, because my fantastic boyfriend usually keeps the tank full and I rarely have to worry about filling up. Also, I don’t drive very often thanks to the fantastic public transportation system in this city. However, I’ve had my fair share of battles with the gas stations…