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There’s still a gas station here that’s not a cute little minimart. The owner has been running it for 54 years. He has six bays inside, eight pumps outside. The place smells of motor oil, metal filings, perspiration, and perhaps a few lost, small animals. The guys he has pumping the gas for you (rare up here with all the automated machinery that talks to you) are unfailingly polite and efficient in all kinds of weather.

He inspected two of my cars over the morning, told me about how the state pays him nothing for it but is very demanding about how he does it, and we chatted about the history of the town and people we both recall. If you need air for your tires, it’s free. At the minimart gas station a half-mile away, you get four minutes of air for $1.50 and no chatting at all.

Someone needs to define “progress” for me.

(By the way, I do know the definition of “hypocrisy.” Rhode Island demands that all cars over two years of age be inspected for safety and environmental reasons every few years in order to maintain registration. California, that great wonderland of hygiene and environmentalism, has no such requirement.)

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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