What’s a Forward Pump?

So I was sitting in line at the Costco gas station, waiting to fill up, with two kids in the backseat constantly questioning what the big hold up was.

For this reason alone I generally avoid the cheap gas that Costco offers. Sometimes saving a few cents isn’t worth the headache I’ll have from the kids’ whining questions by the time I get to the pump.

But, the line-up wasn’t too bad and my kids were in a fairly good mood. So I pulled into a line that looked like it was moving fairly well, cranked the kiddie tunes and opened the windows. Soon, we were singing along to “No more monkeys jumping on the bed” and having a grande ol’ time. πŸ™‚

Then I saw it. I had read it when I first pulled into the line, but (and I’m ashamed to say this since I’m an editor and should really notice these things) I didn’t really read it.

It was the sign directing people in line for the gas pump. (See below.)

Costco Gas Sign

I burst out laughing as my tired, old mommy brain kicked into editor mode. I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was exhaustion. Maybe it was really that funny.

So, what’s a “forward pump?” What if I want to backward pump? I’m the one pumping my gas. Shouldn’t it be up to me?

The kids thought I had lost my marbles. I tried to explain it to them at their level. It just made it funnier. πŸ˜€

At last it was my turn. I put my car in first gear and pulled forward to pump. πŸ˜‰

I’ll leave backward pumping for another time; perhaps when I’m not so tired and full of the hilarity of the moment. πŸ˜€

Oh, and in case you love funny signs (or, more appropriately, English-gone-wrong signs) as much as I do, check out these:

(Be warned: some of these signs contain inadvertent foul language and inadvertent references to sex.)

(I usually never find bad signage in my neighbourhood. This was my first and I was so excited!)


2 thoughts on “What’s a Forward Pump?

  1. Meig

    I think the sign was meant to be read as “pull to the forward pump so you don’t sit at the back one thus preventing another person to be getting gas at the same time as you!” =)

    1. Nancy Post author

      Yes, I see it from that POV as well. They could have found a better way to say it, though. I think most people operating with at least some common sense and common courtesy would pull up to the forward pump if they were able to. Thus making this sign, read from that POV, confusing to them. Regardless, the message is unclear from both sides of the debate depending on if you read the word “pump” as a verb or a noun. I’m glad you brought up the other POV.

      See the comments from http://englishfail.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/pump-fail/ for more on this topic.


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