This sound rings a bell and student loan memories #TBT

Posted By on March 12, 2020

Question: How old do you have to be to identify this ShellStationwidely recognized sound from our automotive past?

  What is this sound?

My first “real job” was as a Shell gas station attendant when I turned 16 years old (although cut lawns, did odd jobs and worked as “boy” labor for a commercial fishing company). Pumping gas, washing windshields and checking oil was a great job … and I even had a uniform to wear. The manager worked around my school schedule and gave me more hours in the summer along with the bonus that came from “selling quarts of oil” and never pumping more gasoline than was paid for. There were always a couple of us on duty at the same time and we enjoyed running out as soon as we heard the sound of the bell (mp3 sound above). That was customer service back in the day.


A couple of stories I’ve told to friends and family before has to do with the “rolling” price meter and gallons counter on the 1970s gasoline pumps. As the price would roll to the next cent, there were little 1/3 tick-marks and the objective was to always stop the pump at the “1/3 mark before the next cent.” GasPumpMeter_aniBy doing that, we never over-pumped more fuel than we sold … AND my manager gave the “pump jockeys” the number of cents of gasoline saved in our paychecks. Hey, I was being paid $2.35/hr plus a quarter for every quart of oil sold, so those extra cents were a big deal. It was too bad we didn’t get a bonus for selling packs of cigarettes … I would have made a fortune (cigarettes were about 50 cents a pack I think). I was nice to have a few spending dollars to put gas in “mom’s car” and extra for “money-making” photography business/hobby,  I was also able to save for college since every dollar I put in the bank was one dollar fewer that I didn’t have to borrow.

Ah … student loans .. the bane of today’s millennial generation. I’m not saying that my final student loan debt was painful compared to today, but while working, it was tolerable and could be fit into our budget .. it was still shocking that I took the full 10 years to pay it off and that I even had it when the kids were growing up (we paid off Brenda’s smaller loan much faster .. but even she had a student loan)! Perhaps having them helped us make it a priority as parents to budget for Katelyn and Taylor’s college?  No complaints about having student loans and no regrets for us … but I do understand the struggle for those who dig their holes much deeper.

I still treasure my student loan freedom letter (below).



Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
My Desultory Blog