Chicago Sun-Times

The Cranky Commuter #1

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This is the start of a semi-regular feature on this blog. The commuter in question is me -- I am frequently cranky. I'm going to write about stuff that bugs me on the roads, the L, Metra, in airports -- wherever we get around. I wonder if this stuff bugs you too -- or if I am alone in my crankiness.

The gripe of the day is those little TV screens they've started mounting on top of gas pumps. I was pumping gas at a Citgo on Irving Park this past weekend, wanting to zone out a little and enjoy the fact that suburban gas was around $2.26. It had been a busy day, a busy week -- my brain was full.

Then suddenly I found myself watching people falling on their butts -- a little kid falling off his skates, somebody getting knocked over by their dog, somebody getting whacked with a cane. No room for reverie here, no room for one quiet moment while the kids were in the car -- it was time for noisy, cheap sight gags. Something I would never choose to watch on TV was being aimed at me, whether I wanted it or not.

This 3-minute montage of people-falling-on-their-butts was followed by an ad for a company claiming it could help you sell your invention, and a bunch of other ads I didn't want to see. It was like being trapped in front of 3 a.m. television -- there was everything but a Vegematic and a Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

I know gas stations have thin margins, and I know they're trying to pick up a little extra money in these times of up-and-down oil prices. But I have enough noise pollution in my life. I hate these things, just like I hate the TV screens at the check-out at the grocery store. Can't you leave me in peace to read the National Enquirer? Can't I just pump my gas and look at the night sky?

I will avoid any gas station that uses these screens. No falling-on-your-butt videos. I already know where gas prices give me pain -- I don't need a visual. Am I alone here -- does anyone like watching ads while they pump gas?

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Hi Phil,

I'm with you on those misleading "with car wash" prices. I try not to look at them and only look at the second price, just like I've trained myself to think "$10" when an ad tells me "Only $9.99." I agree -- it's very annoying.

Editor's Note: This comment was sent by e-mail and the writer agreed to have it posted.

I'm emailing from afar but still within the sphere of your influence. I
agree totally with today's column: just let me be in my own reverie to
contemplate the day's events and those yet to come without the constant
bombardment from advertisers. I've been griping about the loud music
that is piped into open spaces such as shops, restaurants and bars for
ages so that now even my 27 year-old daughter is beginning to see my
point of view. I was so looking forward to a glass of wine, pleasant
conversation of import with my daughter on a recent Saturday night at
Webster's Wine Bar and was so truly, thoroughly disappointed that the
music was so loud. Why? I've even heard music in the cancer center
when I was being treated - ok, it was soothing, but it illustrates to me
the central problem with Americans today - we can't live in peace and

Thank you for a very good gripe. A fan,



Marylou Zimmerman

I don't know about the Citgo that you went to on Irving, but what bugs me even more is the Citgo gas signs that advertise the price of Regular Unleaded in large numbers, and then that price is only available if you agree to an over-priced car wash with your gas purchase. This, to me, should be illegal, as it is very deceptive, and far ourweighs the mildly annoying commercials that appear on LCD screens.

I am right there with you! The Shell at McCormick and Howard has those screens and the perky NBC 5 people can be a bit much when I just want to get home. They seemed to have toned it down a bit, but I refuse to look up at the screen, hoping someone will take a hint somewhere.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on November 18, 2008 3:22 PM.

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