You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 94, “Highways and By-ways,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!
Owning a car is a requirement when you live in Texas, and when you’re raised in a small town like I was, it was a necessity, because just about everything significant was either in the larger town ten miles away or in the big city that was twenty miles away. An interesting side effect of that experience is that driving around doesn’t bother me as much as it does my friends that grew up in the city.
When I was in my small town and I wanted to go to HEB, it was a ten-mile drive. Blockbuster Video? Fifteen miles. The mall? Twenty miles. Heck, if you wanted something to eat that wasn’t Dairy Queen or the local Mexican place it was at least a ten mile drive. My city friends are used to having everything close by and I’m used to having everything far away, so where the thought of driving to the other side of town horrifies them; for me, it’s a big deal.
I make a trip to see my parents about every month or so, and thus, I know Interstate 37 between San Antonio and Corpus Christi like the back of my hand. It’s interesting to see it slowly change over the years: Quirky mom and pop gas stations that had animatronic cowboys and sold ostrich eggs have been replaced by big shiny corporate twenty-pump monstrosities that can probably be seen from space at night.
I find it interesting how most of the newer gas stations are trying really hard to be Buc-ees. One even tried a little too hard and ended up being sued over it. (Buc-ees won, by the way) Try as they might, though, nobody has ever been able to completely pull it off, because they all forget the one thing that makes Buc-ees, Buc-ees: It isn’t the massive store, or the kitschy souvenirs that they sell, or the friendly workers, or even the mascot. It’s the guy cleaning the bathrooms. When you walk into the bathroom at Buc-ees, not only is it huge, but it’s always super-clean, day or night. The other guys try: They’ll put locks on the stall doors and solid walls in between them, but all it takes is one clogged toilet or not-working sink or funky smell to remind you that they ain’t Buc-ees.
A rival gas station, QuikTrip, recently took the title of favorite gas station in Texas from Buc-ees in a 2017 GasBuddy survey. That which had some folks, including myself, up in arms: “There is just no way some other lousy gas station could be better than Buc-ees!” Everybody said. Quik Trip recently began opening stations in the San Antonio area, and one opened up on my way to work, so I decided to check it out. In doing so, I figured out why they won the title. Much like Buc-ees, Quik Trip is a really nice gas station with a good selection of hot food, snacks, drinks, and friendly employees.
You see, Buc-ees is where you stop when you are on a road trip. In Texas, it’s to the point where a stop at Buc-ees is almost a part of the vacation itself, but it’s where you stop when you are on your way to somewhere far away. It’s where you make a pit stop to use the bathroom and get beef jerky, kolaches, tacos, BBQ sandwiches, sweets, sodas, beaver nuggets, and maybe even a T-shirt or maybe even an ice chest or even a grill. And that’s great. Quik Trip, on the other hand, is where you go to gas up from week in and week out for work. Their gas is fairly cheap, and the station is always clean and has a pretty good selection of food and snacks. Now, is Quik Trip as big as Buc-ees? No. Does it have fresh kolaches and beef jerky like Buc-ees? No. Souvenirs? No. But it is nicer than most other gas stations and probably closer to home for most than Buc-ees. So yeah, I can see why it is more popular, especially if the gas is just as cheap, and isn’t cheap gas what we’re all looking for?
This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I top-up my SUV. I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear or read more of my words visit Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening!