It’s a little slice of Oregon, right in the middle of Everett.
At this gas station on Evergreen Way, drivers stay in their cars and let attendants fill ‘er up.
What’s up with that?
Tradition. One that dates back before life, liberty and the pursuit of self-service gas became the norm in 48 states, including Washington.
General Car Wash is a throwback.
The station has been pumping gas for customers for more than four decades, said owner Mark Hoidal, who started as an attendant 42 years ago.
The General’s logo, a cartoon military figure with a bucket on his head and water puddles at his feet, salutes over the car wash-petro compound that spans 300 feet at 6101 Evergreen Way.
From the road, it looks like an ordinary station — that is, until you see the “We pump it” sign, which some people don’t notice until they try to get out of their cars.
“We get shocked out-of-state visitors,” said Chad Littlewood, who has worked at the station off and on since 1998 as a second job.
At times there are as many as seven attendants on duty to tend to the six pumps and the hands-on car wash at the General.
Hoidal started selling unbranded gasoline about eight years ago so he could price it competitively. “It used to be Texaco for years,” he said.
New Jersey and Oregon are the only “Pump for me” states that ban self-service gas stations, though Oregonians in rural counties are allowed to dispense their own gasoline at night due to a law enacted in 2016.
Hoidal said he keeps the manned service to keep the flow going in the two lanes, which have three pumps on each side. It takes longer when customers have to get out of their car to pump and, besides, they tend to dawdle.
People do have the option to pump their own if they wish, and there are a few who insist.
“We don’t like the masses to do that,” Hoidal said. “We discourage that.”
There is no card slot on the pumps. There’s a centralized payment system in the glass kiosk where they keep the attendants.
Having someone pump your gas is pure pampering. You stay in your warm seat and hand your payment to a real person. Your hands don’t get cold or smell like gas.
Really, why would you want to get out of the car and do it yourself? Some women in New Jersey embrace it on T-shirts, bumper stickers and social media: “Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas.”
Neither does Everett widow Betty Shatzka.
“I lost my husband almost three years ago and I have never pumped gas in my whole life and I’m not going to, as long as this place stays in business,” Shatzka said. “My daughter keeps saying, ‘Mom, it’s the easiest thing.’”
Maybe so, but it’s not on herbucket list.
“There are so many people who come here to get their gas pumped,” she said. “It isn’t just little old ladies.”
Hoidal sees customers from all walks. “We have a lot of business people in suits and ties. Women, too,” he said.
Traffic at the General picks up in cold weather.
“It’s pretty cool when it’s 28 degrees. It’s awesome,” said Nedim Yusuf of Redmond, visiting the station for the first time on a recent frosty morning.
Bobbi Jo Briggs of Everett is a second-generation convert.
“My parents used to come here. We had a little Volkswagen bug and we used to come here and fill up our little bug for $5. So we’ve been coming here for 40 years,” Briggs said. “We’re a local small business, so we like to support small businesses. They’re nice people and they hire local kids.”
“This is the only place I come because I don’t like pumping my gas,” Briggs said. “I went down to visit my son in southwest Washington and I had to do it myself. It’s not the end of the world, but I was almost tempted to drive over to Astoria in Oregon.”
Yep, it’s that addicting.
Pop on by and check it out, all from the comfort of your car seat.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.