24-hour manning of service station ending

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It is the end of an era for the Mobil Gore service station – it will no longer be manned 24 hours a day.

Owner Richard Christie said staff safety was the main reason the business had decided to change from today to an overnight prepaid pump system, meaning the shop would be closed overnight.

Twenty-four-hour manning of the business was implemented on September 5, 1996. But since that time there had been several changes, including in industries in the district, he said.

In the past, industries such as the Carter Holt Harvey Mataura paper mill, the Flemings Creamoata mill and the Alliance Group Mataura plant mutton department were all operational.

“They were going 24/7.”

That was no longer the case.

“It’s just not feasible to have someone here overnight.”

The number of carloads of young people “cruising” the town had also dwindled, he said.

The carloads would include a sober driver and they frequently stopped for snacks, such as pies and bottles of Coke, he said.

In days gone by, it was not unusual to see 12 “wagons” getting around with six to eight people on board.

Teens would often congregate at the service station.

If there was a scuffle between teens, it was not unusual for 200 people to appear before a staff member could get to the forecourt, Mr Christie said.

“Now days it’s a big night if there is three [wagons].”

The removal of the centre parks in Main St was the beginning of a culture change.

Alcohol bylaws, community attitudes and police vigilance had also influenced the change, which he described as positive.

In the days before cellphones young people called into the shop to use the phone to call their parents, or just to have some hot food, he said.

There had been thousands of incidents over the years, Mr Christie said.

In one, a man went on to the forecourt and announced he would give someone $200 if they gave him a ride to Christchurch. Someone responded asking for $500 and the deal was done.

The man climbed into a big Valiant and off he went.

The Valiant returned an hour later for supplies such as drinks and the hitchhiker was “starfished” in the back of the car, worse for wear after partaking in a few drinks, Mr Christie said.

Whether the man made it to Christchurch is unknown.

Mr Christie’s father, Andy Christie, used to be a regular staff member on night shift at the service station.

He used to describe night shift as coming to an all-night party where he was the only sober one in attendance, Mr Christie said.

There would be no redundancies associated with the changes. One staff member had already decided to move on and the other would be absorbed into the day roster, Mr Christie said.

The service station will be manned from 6.30am to 11.30pm.