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Express Rant? Free Express Car Wash!

John Moe

Marc Sanchez

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Getting soaked by high gas prices
(Courtesy Bobak Bakhtiari)
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Not such a good job this weekend: gas station cashier. You've got no control over the price of gas at your station, but you get a lot of the blame. Prices are pushing close to $5 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area -- that makes for a lot of angry customers.

So one gas station is offering customers a productive way to vent their frustrations. Bobak Bakhtiari manages the Tanforan Shell station in San Bruno, Calif. The 28-year-old also has also worked in mental health, including anger management -- handy skills these days. Weekend America's John Moe wanted to learn more:

John Moe: What has been the mood among the customers coming into your station as gas prices have climbed so high?

Bobak Bakhtiari: Well, they've been pretty decisively more hostile than usual. There's a British woman that came in last week, I guess her credit card wasn't working... She just walked in and started yelling at the cashier. He was trying to go out to help her and she began insulting him, telling him that he was worthless, that he needs to do something about gas prices.

Moe: Gas prices are high everywhere -- what are you doing about it that's unique?

Bakhtiari: We've installed a dunk tank about 10 days ago and every Saturday, there's live music and dunking going on.

Who is in the dunk tank? Who do the customers have an opportunity to dunk?

A Shell employee -- someone dressed up either as a corporate Shell employee or a typical cashier.

And what are the rules to that? Do you get a free softball toss with every fill-up? Or can anybody just walk up to the gas station and do it?

Well it's been going well with anybody just walking up to the station and doing it. They each get three tosses. If that doesn't help, we also offer an express rant, where if they can creatively rant about gas prices they can receive a free express car wash. Cashiers are trained to really encourage all forms of expression during the rant. Well, except for throwing a chair through the window.

How are your cashiers encouraging people to vent?

If someone comes in and they're upset, we have this protocol where they confuse them by intercepting with really positive feedback suddenly. Let's say someone comes in and they're like, "What the hell is wrong with you? Do you see those gas prices? What's wrong with you guys?" and starts getting revved up. The cashier will typically say: "Great! Wonderful! Look," and just point up to a sign that says "Express Rant = Free Express Wash."

"Your anger just earned you a car wash, ma'am."

Exactly. Or "Your anger can earn you a car wash in few seconds, please step to the side over there." They're directed to guide them to the side of the store where they are monitored as they rant.

What's the price of gas at your station right now?

A gallon of unleaded is going for $4.87.

What? That's outrageous! How can you charge that? That's insane! You're crooks! You're criminals!

Excellent, I love this! Keep going with it...

  • Music Bridge:
    Zing Zong
    Artist: Pink Skull
    CD: Zeppelin 3 (Free News)


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Earl Clemson

    From Dallas, TX, 07/10/2008

    www.thanksalotw.com says it all when it comes to gas prices

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