Refill my car, not my stomach

Ben Sorkin, Design Editor

Gas is important. That much is a fact that all of us know by now. Without it, we would never be able to refill our precious cars and get from place to place. And where do we get our car’s lifeblood? Well, there are tons of gas stations littered across our state, the country, and world. It is hard to go ten miles without even running into one or two quick-stop fill stations. But lately, it seems that the gas stations we rely on so much have morphed into something that is more akin to a commodity than anything else.

Enter Racetrac and Wawa. Two gas station behemoths that aim to be the every-man’s daily stop n’ shop for just about anything they would ever need. Need a 32oz. soda? Sure! How about an entire bag of Lays Cappuccino chips? Why not. Oh no, let’s not forget the frozen yogurt and pizza bites! Wait… What did I even come here for again?

That is the problem with mega-stations like Racetrac and Wawa. While they aim to be as convenient as possible, both end up on being a complete nuisance. Why get gas when you can buy ten other products that are being sold double their normal price?

Focusing on the basics of “Gas-Stations-101,” Racetrack is solid when it comes to refueling. Gasoline prices are never too insane, and the atmosphere of the station is clean and almost futuristic. The exterior design is more like a restaurant than a typical gas station and I am not too sure whether that is something I like or not. Inside, however, gets hectic. War was waged with my senses as I could not decide what to whiff or taste first. Should I ogle at the “fresh baked goods” or should I peruse the coffee-conga-line full of just about every flavor of coffee I am willing to think of? It is just confusing, and it makes me feel like I have a concentration deficiency.
The organized shelves of assorted goods were tidy, and seemed to only cater toward anything I could possibly need, but would have no desire going to an actual store to get. I had no problem at all finding a map, some Tylenol, or some obscure chips I have not seen in years.

Wawa sports a similar clean and modern exterior, but it is what is inside the convenience store that gets crazy. No menus, no people taking your orders. Everything is handled by state of the art computer terminals. Now you can get piping hot food with as little human interaction as possible. Another trend that most gas stations are following heavily as of late. Because heaven forbid you might get to know the gas station clerk…

While it was definitely great to see all of the things places like Racetrack and Wawa had to offer, I ultimately had no desire to get anything aside from a newspaper and Dr. Pepper slushee. That is it. I could not stand the visual overload that was before me. I could not stand looking at the horrid frozen-yogurt mascot that Racetrac adopted for some ungodly reason. I could not stand the fact that no matter how much of a megalith the stations were, there was only one poor man working the register.

Trying to be my “everything” only annoyed me. I want a gas station that will give me gas, an occasional car wash and a newspaper. Nothing more, and nothing less. Instead, I got a jumbo bag of dill pickle flavored lays. Because those where what I needed.

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