December 11, 2013 | 10:51 AM In the little town where I grew up, there were no gas stations. There were places where you paid 32.9 cents for every gallon of gas, but we called them service stations.
When you pulled into the service station, three friendly men (no women need apply back then) ran out to meet you. One opened the hood, pulled up the dipstick and checked the oil. Then he checked the water in the radiator and the battery and sometimes the brake fluid level. Another cleaned windows and headlights and checked the air in the tires. The third man put gas in your tank while you waited comfortably and patiently behind the steering wheel.
The emphasis was not on gas, but on service. Gas prices didn't vary much from station to station. Each station competed to out-serve and out-friend the others and so earn your patronage.
That concept of service at the gas pump is largely gone with the wind, as out of date as a man guiding a '52 Studebaker into an Esso service station and telling the men who ran out, "Fill 'er up. And check the tires, please."
Charlie Brown, reading a magazine, shared with Lucy: "It says here that young people of today don't believe in any causes." Lucy corrected him: "That's not true at all. I believe in a cause. I believe in me. I'm my own cause."
Since the '60s, the Church of Service has lost lots of ground to the Church of Self. Waiting while someone else pumps my gas is a distant memory.
How ironic that this gluttonous, glitzy, consumption-crazed holiday season is named for one who said: "I did not come here to be served, but to serve" and taught that the greatest people are not those who rule others but those who serve. Dr. Wayne Willis