Review of Local Gas Station Experience

Senior+Frank+Whiting+documents+his+local+gas+station+experience+and+gains+insight.+

Photo by: Frank Whiting

Senior Frank Whiting documents his local gas station experience and gains insight.

Frank Whiting, Student of Journalism

High‌ ‌school‌ ‌is‌ ‌when‌ ‌many‌ ‌people‌ ‌may‌ ‌first‌ ‌experience‌ ‌a‌ ‌level‌ ‌of‌ ‌freedom‌ ‌earlier‌ ‌kept‌ ‌behind‌ ‌a‌‌ barrier‌ ‌of‌ ‌transportation.‌ ‌No‌ ‌longer‌ ‌asking‌ ‌their‌ ‌parents‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌ride‌ ‌whenever‌ ‌they‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌somewhere,‌ ‌the‌ ‌freedom‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌car‌ ‌is‌ immense,‌ ‌but‌ ‌so‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌burden‌ ‌of‌ ‌filling‌ ‌up‌ ‌gas.‌ ‌Littered‌ ‌across‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌lies‌ ‌gas‌ ‌stations,‌ ‌a‌ ‌required‌ ‌trip‌ ‌for‌ ‌anyone‌ ‌who‌ ‌plans‌ ‌to‌ ‌regularly‌ ‌go‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌road,‌ ‌but‌ ‌which‌ ‌one‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌best?‌ ‌From‌ ‌Kwik trip,‌ ‌the‌ ‌face‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Midwest,‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌dingy‌ ‌Citgo‌ ‌that‌ ‌customers ‌have‌ ‌never‌ ‌actually‌ ‌gone‌ ‌inside.

I‌ ‌will‌ ‌experience‌ ‌local‌ ‌gas‌ ‌stations‌, ‌so‌ ‌consumers ‌do not‌ ‌have‌ ‌to,‌ ‌and maybe I’ll find a diamond in the rough.‌ ‌

 

I started my journey at the most popular gas station nearby, Kwik Trip. I went to Kwik Trip #883, not my regular one, but still one I am familiar with. If there is one thing I can say about Kwik Trip, it is unparalleled in its convenience and variety. Kwik Trips can be found anywhere and for a good reason. Not only does it have Top Tier gas, an assurance of quality gas that reduces carbon deposits and can reduce mpg by two to four percent according to Carfax. It also has top-tier food. Kwik Trip’s weakest feature is its imperfection. It is a neutral zone that will always give out the same experience no matter which location. Kwik Trip employee Marcella Schneider shared a little about their food protocol: “We have a good record of scoring high on our audits.  The food is only on the hotspot if it’s fresh and only stays for a certain amount of time.” I would argue it is the closest we have to a teen dystopian world like The Giver. A rich experience requires not just the positive but also the negative. Kwik Trip’s imperfection is in its perfection. 

Next, I took a look at the rookie on the block, Speedway. While the company itself has been established since 1997, Speedway is still fresh in Neenah, fresh enough for this to be my first time there. I came in with high expectations, and left feeling disappointed. In no way was it bad, the place was clean, the prices were cheap, the slushies were great, but something just felt off. The staff seems unorganized, fumbling around the store not doing anything. They were out of a good amount of items from what I saw. The place was empty to the point where the majority of the line was employees. My other nitpick that wasted about five minutes of my day was the confusing keypad in which customers have to guess between the “YES” and “O” buttons for confirming.

Speedway’s confusing confirm buttons (Photo by: Frank Whiting)

The only saving grace of the store had to be the pristine shape of it all. It felt like I was on the newest season of America’s Next Top Model. The freshly mopped floors were my catwalk, the shy cashier took on the role of Tyra Banks, and I was the hottest one there. Speedway is too nice to be a gas station. It redefines the experience of grabbing a snack after filling up gas as something of quality rather than grime and muck, something this next location cannot say.

Let me set the scene:

You are driving in the middle of nowhere. You think you might recognize that road coming up ahead, but you know you are just lying to yourself. Your phone is dead and your gas is running low, and then you see it. Citgo. You have seen a Citgo before, but never before have you been in it, let alone stopped at it, but now is not a time to be picky. That is the only time I have filled gas at a Citgo outside of this review. To me, Citgo is not a gas station you go to, it is a gas station that comes to you in times of need . . . or weakness. 

Every single day after work I pass a Citgo with relatively good gas prices, but I have never used it nor have I ever seen a car pull up into it. There always seems to be one car parked at the side of the building that has not moved for the past year. I will never know what happened to that car’s owner, but I can only imagine the horrible fate they had after entering. After my visit, I can say, it’s nothing special. There is no real reason to ever go inside. It is about what you would expect from a gas station, gross, cramped, and efficient, but the mystery of a Citgo’s true purpose will forever remain in my mind gnawing at my focus on the road.

When taking on this task, I was warned of one location, the Mobil by Solea. It had to be a stop on my journey. Admittedly, I put it off because my general wuss behavior, but it was inevitable. After the experience, I can say Burial Chamber has nothing on the Mobil by Solea. Not only does it not cost money to enter, but it is also open year-round. It comes with attractions like lines that could not be any slower or for the more courageous folks, the bathroom. The Mobil by Solea is less a gas station, and more an experience, something that goes underappreciated way too often in today’s day and age.

My final destination was Pump N Munch. As an extension of BP, I am treating the pumps and the munch as separate. To start, the pump was very slow, which was made much worse by the freezing temperatures outside. Moving onto the munch of it all, I expected Pump N Munch to prosper, but instead, they were just average. The donuts taste exactly as good as you would expect for how cheap they are, which is bad. They are frequently visited by the Inferno Subs food truck, something I cannot comment on, but it should be noted. Inside, the show was stolen by the customer service. I was not expecting anyone working there to have personality, but somehow the meek surrounding has not drained them of emotion and sociability. 

After this adventure, I have come to the realization that I play it safe with my gas filling. This gave me a great experience to try out new gas stations and confirm stations that sell top tier gas, according to Autolist. The only new gas station that I would willingly return to would have to be Speedway. The heavenly cheap slushies made it my favorite of the list. I encourage everyone to venture outside their comfort zone and check out that Citgo passed or go to Speedway rather than Kwik Trip. The world is full of so many gas stations, so use that short life to make every fill of the tank something new.