An unsleeping malice has crept up from the Dark South and lain in wait for me. Today it pounced. I was minding my own business, tending to the fuel requirements of my vehicle, when the gas pump came to electronic life and began to bombard me with commercial advertisements. Yes, a northern California Shell station had become infested with TV ads, with small televisions blaring out commercials from atop each pump. It was a nightmare come true.
The ads were interspersed with public-service announcements, offering me advice about road conditions. I guess that's supposed to make it all okay. Then the screen flashed an in-house ad for PumpTop TV, extolling the benefits of shoving advertising into yet a another new venue. (Yesterday, the inside surfaces of restroom stalls; today, the tops of gasoline pumps; tomorrow, the world!) The purveyors of this new intrusion into our lives are not shy when it comes to bragging about their intentions:
PumpTop TV is a premier Out-of-Home Digital Media network that delivers current news, entertainment and advertising to millions of drivers as they fuel their vehicles at the gas pump. Daylight-viewable LCD screens mounted at eye level on top of gasoline pumps at select, high-volume gas stations provide a broadcast television-like experience (video and audio) to a desirable, captive audience out of the home.Yeah, “captive audience.” They actually say it.
Apparently this new venture has been building for a couple of years. Westinghouse brags that their equipment is now installed in some 700 service stations. The invasion apparently began in Los Angeles in the first half of 2007. I was blissfully unaware of its gradual encroachment on northern California until the ads began to blare at me.
I will not go to that gas station again, but I fear I am fighting a doomed rear-guard action. The soulsuckers are here.
I'm too mild-mannered to use the hammer from the toolbox in the trunk of my car, but I can think of some nice new applications for contact paper.