On a recent Saturday morning my family was running errands in Silverdale and were a bit pressed for time when I realized we were almost out of gas. Costco has a reputation for having the least expensive gas in town so I made a quick detour to fill up. Costco also has a reputation for having ridiculously long wait times when filling up. As I pull into the Coscto gas station, I slowly crept into position eyeing which line I think will move the quickest. I was trying to gauge how long people have been at the pump and whether they were grabbing for their receipt or just beginning to fill up. After a fast but careful review I took my space in the line I thought would move the quickest.
Just as I rolled into a position that couldn’t be changed, I could see the back of the heads of the people in the car directly in front of me and it looked like I had pulled in behind some folks that were probably in their mid 80s. I love working with folks who are retired, but I knew I had made a critical error in terms of time efficiency. I know it’s not right to judge people based on their age, but I assumed I really blew it and that we would wait twice as long as this elderly couple filled up their gas tank. Rebecca sitting in the passenger seat said, “Good job Jason you pulled in behind the slowest people in the place.” I didn’t realize that she too was very in tune with the importance of picking the best position in line.
What happened next was very impressive. As the elderly couple pulled up to the pump, the passenger door flew open before the car was all the way stopped. As the car came to a complete stop a very cute older woman stepped out of the passenger door and made her way for the pump with two cards in hand. A few moments later the driver side door opened and a tall older man got out of the car and was headed for the gas pump. I thought to myself, “OH MAN how many people does it take to pump the gas.”
What I didn’t realize was I was about to watch a precision team fill up their car and move through the line faster than a professional Nascar pit crew team. The elderly woman was inserting cards and pushing buttons on the machine so that by the time her husband had opened the fuel door and unscrewed the cap the machine was ready to fuel. He then inserted the nozzle, and they stood and talked for a few minutes until they were done pumping the gas. As he pulled the nozzle from the car, his wife was beginning the process of getting her receipt. They both walked over to the car where their doors were still open and stepped in. They closed their doors simultaneously and they were off. It was the fastest Costco refueling I have ever witnessed.
Rebecca and I said let’s give that a try. So when it was our turn we pulled up and began the process. If the folks who went before us were like professional, graceful ballet dancers, then Rebecca and I looked like two people who couldn’t dance to save our life. The first and most critical error was that I handed Rebecca a credit card that Costco wouldn’t accept. So I had to go back to the car grab my wallet and find my debit card. I could feel the frustration of the drivers in line behind us as they watched us try to duplicate the precision and grace of the couple we had just witnessed. As I was standing there pumping my gas, I looked over at the pump next to me and realized their was another retired couple who were also in precision gas pumping mode, and I motioned to Rebecca and silently lipped, “Look over there they are doing it too.”
So now when Rebecca and I are driving together and pull into fuel up she says, “Come on let’s do this,” and together we try to work hard to duplicate the awesome performance of the couple we first witnessed. We haven’t had a fill up yet that was a flawless as the one we first witnessed, but we laugh and try. We are a team, and we are getting better every time.
I’m a grateful for the work we do and the people we serve. As a firm that specializes in working with folks who are retired, I have an opportunity to get a glimpse into the future to see what my life could look like 20, 30 or 40 years into the future. Pumping gas at Costco reminded of two things: first, you shouldn’t judge people based on their age, and secondly, even when we think the rest of the world may not be paying attention others are learning from the way we conduct ourselves.
Have you witnessed this type of team work at the gas pump?