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Are you full-serve or self-serve? Or do you serve both ways? I write a great deal about the (mostly irritating and dangerous) way people drive. It's a snapshot of the personality. Show me how you drive and I'll have a good idea how you are behind a desk, in a pickup hockey game, or dare I say it, between the sheets.

How you gas up also demonstrates a lot about you.

Take, for instance, the full-service gas station. While the 1950s-era uniformed gas jockey who made jovial chitchat while lifting the hood and gassing your ride is gone, it's still a more pampered experience and those who pick full-serve are willing to pay a little extra. But there's more to it. I like full-serve because it caters to my instinct toward sloth. I press a button and the window rolls down. I say, "Fill 'er up" and the magic man fills the tank. I pay, tip and drive away.

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It is one of the most seamless and rewarding interactions of my week.

Sometimes the attendant even cleans the windshield. That's a bonus. I can ask him to check the oil and he'll do it, no questions asked. I know how to check the oil, but again, we're talking me expending effort.

Full-serve is also the domain of the fashion conscious. Why let the elements have sway on the hairdo you spent all morning working on and the suit you paid all that money for? Many an ambitious career person or diehard narcissist has been saved by the full-serve during inclement weather.

Self-serve is favoured by cost-conscious consumers and by those looking to escape their automobiles. The self-serve is where you normally find family vehicles. That's because the self-serve allows mom or dad to exit the automobile but leaves the children securely strapped in their seats

This means a few precious minutes filling the tank outside the mini-melee. It's easy to identify these folks. Just look for a woman filling up in January without a winter coat (cold focuses the mind) muttering stuff like, "Only three more hours till they go to bed. Only three more hours …"

Most of us swing both ways. We use full-serve when the situation suits and self-serve when we're feeling anti-social.

I'm a full-serve guy. I used to enjoy self-serve until the money-grubbing gas companies installed television screens above the pumps. That killed it. My favourite part of pumping gas was the staring into space thinking about nothing. That was my "me" time. The day they rolled the screens out was a day of infamy.

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Hey corporations, not everything needs a screen stuck on it. In fact, most objects are not improved by the installation of a screen that rolls a news scrawl with depressing stories from around the world – shootings, fires, natural disasters, Maple Leaf scores – cut with advertisements: "Buy one bag of junk food that will kill you, get a second bag of junk food that will kill you free!"

See you at the pumps.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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