Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Personal Info Invasions

So this evening, I drive into the 76 gas station that I've been going to for twenty years. Even though I was put out by them as a consumer for their corporate decision to no longer put air in the tires for customers, I continued, out of laziness because the location is convenient, to buy most of my gas from them.

Tonight, I hand over my card at the pump and the attendant asks me for my zip code. First time there I'd ever been asked that. I said "Why do you want to know that?" and he tells me it's a new thing, it's to verify my card. I said that I have my ID, (which, I know, has my zip code on it) I've been coming here for twenty years, and I'm not giving my zip code.  He said "the system won't take the card unless you give your zip code." So I gave him the wrong zip code, but of course it didn't go through, because the system already has my zip code. I told the attendant he can pass on to his corporate fascists that I won't be coming to their gas station anymore, that this slow invasion of privacy and requests for information is "ridiculous," and I left.

This has nothing to do with verifying a card, and everything to do with the ever increasing demands for personal information and general hoop jumping. Turn over any info when requested, no questions asked, and allow yourself to be searched or subjected to whatever thing it is they decide to have you go through.

The good thing about this incident is that it reminded me to stop being lazy and use only cash for transactions. For as long as that will last. Legally, businesses are not required to accept cash. That "legal tender" on bills does not mean businesses must accept literal cash. Semantic game playing loop holes rule; dollars must be accepted, and those dollars can be in the form of credit cards and debit cards. Exceptions would be if a particular state made it illegal for any business to reject cash, but, no state has done so. So, if a business wants to take only plastic and reject your cash, they're within their rights.

My reaction to a seemingly insignificant thing, and no doubt par for the course in the big cities, but the moment seemed like an omen, one that I found myself responding to in a slightly surprising way.  And what of the marginalized, those who don't have credit cards or debit cards? Answer from society: screw 'em. In the context of what's been happening in the world, and in our own country which is tumbling down the fascist rabbit hole at an alarming speed, it just seemed too much. I just had a "fuck-you-I'm an old hippie- damn it- pissed-off-senior moment" and couldn't take it any more at the time.


  1. Oh, I don't know that it's a "senior moment" (though it might well be) but I've been intuiting the same things myself regarding those very similar experiences I've had lately. Maybe it's up to us middle-aged types to keep reminding people that these types of little invasions of privacy eventually snowball - and, ultimately, that's just what the "powers that be" intend.


  2. I don't know how it is there, but here that are almost no gas station pumps that don't ask for your zip to verify. I think the only real option here is to go inside and pay, which I am way too lazy to do and so I put up with it for convenience. Besides, it already knows my zip anyway so I am not telling it anything new.