10 September 2008

Dialog - At the Gas Station

In the last dialog episode I covered more or less what to expect when you leave the supermarket checkout and go out into the supermarket parking lot with your purchases. This time we will cover stopping at the gas station on the way home. All of the gas stations in Mexico are owned or franchised by Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) which is Mexico's state-owned petroleum company. The grades of PEMEX gasoline are “Magna” (regular unleaded 87 octane) and “Premium” (92 octane). The way to tell them apart is that Magna has a green pump handle and Premium has a red pump handle. You will notice that the attendant asks the man to note that the gas pump registers $0.00 before he starts pumping. This is to avoid suspicion that he is cheating the customer. Since I have never to my knowledge been cheated in the ten years that I have been living here I just say “Bueno” and ignore it. Note that the tire pressure is given in PSI (pounds per square inch). Even though Mexico officially uses the Metric System if you tell the gas station attendant that instead of 30 PSI (peh-ehseh-ee) you want 2.068 kPa (kilopascals) he will probably just give you a blank stare. The man in the dialog just says “30 parejo” which means “30 PSI all around”. Also note that the man uses a short form for “por favor” which is “porfa” (POHR-fah). This is quite common.

Okay, so the man drives into the Pemex station and pulls up to the pump and the attendant approaches him and says:

Buenas tardes, señor. ¿Cuánto le vamos a servir? ¿Se lo lleno?
Good afternoon sir. How may we be of service? Fill'er up?

Sí, por favor, llénalo.
Yes please, fill'er up.

¿Con Magna o Premio? (¿Con verde o rojo?)
With Magna or Premium? (With green or red?)

Con Magna, porfa. (Con verde porfa.)
With green please. (With green please.)

Señor, nota la bomba se marca ceros por favor.
Mister, please note that the pump shows zeros.

Bueno, está bien.
Alright, it's okay.

¿Quiere que lo checo el aceite?
Do you want me to check the oil?

No, gracias, pero me puede checar la presión de las llantas.
No, thank you, but you can check the air in the tires for me.

Sí, cómo no. ¿Cuántas libras prefiere?
Yes, why not? How many pounds do you prefer?

Treinta parejo.
Thirty all around.

Ya está señor. Sus llantas están bien con la excepción de la de trasera derecha. Faltaba cinco libras. Hay que revisar cuando vuelve a cargar gasolina. Son doscientos cuarenta y cinco pesos para la gasolina.
All done sir. Your tires are okay except for the right rear. It was lacking five pounds. You need to check it when you gas up again. That will be two hundred forty-five pesos for the gasoline.

Aquí está doscientos cincuenta. Quédese con el cambio para un refresco.
Here is two hundred fifty. Keep the change for a soda.

Muchas gracias, señor. Que le vaya bien, ándale.
Thanks a lot sir. Y'all come back soon.

Note: I have a few more comments:

Faltaba cinco libras. - Don't confuse the word “libras”, “pounds” with “libros”, books. Also there is a peculiar idiomatic expression involving the verb librar which normally means “to set free” or “to exempt”. The phrase is “No la libro”. It means “I can't fit it” or “It won't fit”. One time I was with another man who was trying to parallel park a car in a space which was too small. He said, “No la libro” meaning the space was too small for the car but I thought he was saying something about a book and I said ¿Qué libro?, "What book?". Don't laugh. Things like this are going to happen to you too, and I want you to be honest and tell me about them.

Queda con el cambio para un refresco. - It is the custom in Mexico to tip gas station attendants and I usually give them five pesos or even ten pesos if the do some extra work for me like washing all the windows, or checking the oil, or checking the tires. In this case the man gave the attendant two hundred fity pesos in bills and told him to keep the five pesos in change. He must be a bit on the cheap side because a soda cost more like six or seven pesos and the atendant did the extra work of checking his tires.

Que le vaya bien, ándale. - Note that I translated it as “Y'all come back soon”. The literal translation would be “May you go well, hurry up”. I think my translation carries the meaning better than the literal translation. Don't you?


glorv1 said...

Thats a nice looking gas station. Over here they sure don't check the oil or gas up your car, let alone put air in the tires. Sounds like the olden days to me. Informative as always. Take care.

YayaOrchid said...

I agree. Very informative.

Babs said...

Did you read my blog where I asked the men at the Pemex station to "limpio mi manzanas" instead of "limpio mi ventanas"? it was almost 10 years ago and I still chuckle about it......they were VERY polite!

Carlos Ponce-Melendez said...

Bob, your blog is great and the dialog funny. There is just one mistake, you don't say: queda con el cambio. You need to say: quedese con el cambio.

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks Carlos. I need all the help that I can get! I should have said "quédese" or "quédate". I will change it. Please let me know whenever I make an error. That is how I learn and improve. Muchos saludos a toda la gente de San Antonio :)

1st Mate said...

Hi, Bob - I like your blog and your Spanish tutorial. I'm adding you to my bloglist.

Gary Denness said...

An old blog post from one of my favourite bloggers on the subject of Pemex...I can relate to both your post and his! Like most places, there's good and bad.


(I would have TinyURL'ed the long address but then people get suspicious of where it'll take them!)

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks Gary. As someone who has pumped quite a bit of gas myself in my younger days I am always interested in gas station stories. I guess the long and the short of it is to keep your eyes open and your wits about you at all times.

Anonymous said...

Great explanation!!!I live in Tampico and have been cheated at least three times so now I get out of the car and check if it reads zero and never take my eyes off the counter and check the price and liters amounts.


market said...

In the Cabo San Lucas, they like to get you talking and distracted, then when paying for the gas if you give them $500 pesos they use a slight of hand to change it to $50 pesos. Many Gringos are filling up on their way to the airport, and it all looks like Monopoly money, and they are nervous. The key is to keep your money in your hand and count it out as your give it to the attendant, or put it on the auto hood so he doesn't have it in his hand. But if you stand your ground they quickly give it up, too many easy marks to make a fuss. Never been cheated in La Paz or elsewhere in the Baja.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.