Life’s little conveniences appreciated

Published 6:00 am Sunday, January 13, 2013

The following trivia question was once posed to me.

     “You get a car for the first time and realize you need gas. How do you know which side of the vehicle to park closest to the gas pump?”

     I pondered the question for a second and remembered there is a small arrow on the fuel gauge. It points to the side of the car where the gas cap is located.

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     My aunt, who had asked the question, said I was one of only a few people to have answered correctly. It didn’t amount to much, but I was proud of myself for knowing that little bit of trivia.

     Things like the fuel gauge arrow are what I like to refer to as “little conveniences” that make life a little easier to handle. They’re certainly not major life-changers by any stretch, but I do take notice when they’re absent.

     I’ve tended to notice these “little conveniences” – or more importantly, their absence – when I’ve been behind the wheel of a car.

     Referring to my initial question, take fueling up a vehicle, for instance.

     I have no idea what it’s called, but that little lever or, in some cases, a hook that holds the fuel handle squeeze grip in place while filling up was an important invention.

     When fuel pump handles have the levers, the motorist can leave the car to go inside the store to pay if needed or get some refreshments. During cold and windy times, both hands can be put in the jacket while the fuel keeps flowing.

     I also take note when convenience stores post signs like “Please pull away from fuel pumps before entering store.”

     If a store has a lever holder, I’m more likely to move away from the pump if I need to go inside. If it doesn’t, the car stays put – if I go in at all.

      And of course, let’s not forget the little conveniences afforded – or not afforded in a few cases – at the drive-thru restaurants.

     I must say I’ve noticed a marked improvement at drive-thru windows as far as providing items that would be expected with particular menu selections.

     When ordering a drink, for instance, a straw really should be included.

     It’s highly annoying to pull away from the window and be riding down the road only to find no straw in the bag. Thankfully, those instances are few and far between, but they still do happen from time to time.

     With ice cream or chili, it’s much the same thing. Please include a spoon.

     When it comes to throwing away the wrappers the straws or spoons come in, I really appreciate drive-thru places that put a garbage can with a chute near the window as you pull away.

     That makes it easy to dispose of the paper and keep it from junking up the auto’s inside. If I’ve got another fast-food bag or something still lying around, I generally toss that away, too.

     Some time ago, one restaurant I frequent moved the garbage bin to the other side of the window as you approach it.

     I guess this was to get rid of fast-food bags and straw wrappers before you got to the window and picked up more? To me, this wasn’t a little convenience, but rather a premature convenience.

     You’re probably thinking I have too much time to ponder life’s mysteries while I’m behind the wheel of a car. You may be right, but that also means I have time to appreciate life’s little conveniences – and to notice when they’re not present.

     That’s all for now.

     Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail to