(Update: Adding video, comments from station worker, owner)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The staff shortage crippling many businesses around the country may have a new impact, if a Central Oregon gas station owner gets his way -- and more Central Oregonians can pump their own gas.
Haseeb Shojai owns several stations around the region, including the Chevron on Division Street in Southeast Bend, near the Bend Parkway on-ramp.
Shojai said the station was closed on Sunday due to staffing issues and had to wait to open until 10 a.m. on Monday.
Brian Kidd was the only attendant on Monday.
"It’s been kind of rough because no one wants to work,” Kidd said.
Kidd worked from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday. Those were the only hours the station was open.
Shojai said, “We don’t even know when we can open. We don’t know when we can close. We don’t know if somebody shows up.”
He plans to write a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, state Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, and the Oregon State fire marshal, urging officials to allow self-service gas station pumps in Deschutes County.
"That will take care a lot of the burden on employer, and employees, because we are at a point in our business that we have to break a rule," Shojai said.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where everyone cannot pump their own gas. Oregon's rules date back to 1951, when lawmakers said only trained gas station workers should do so.
Other reasons for the self-serve ban included equitable treatment of seniors and the disabled, and the job impact of not requiring an attendant to pump gas.
But Shojai said such a change will not impact his employees.
"They will just play a different role in the company," he said. "They will still be compensated, and they will still have their wages. Jobs will not be lost."
Critics of the continued ban, a half-century later, note far more safety features and a simpler setup in modern times.
The state rules were relaxed in 2015 so people in 15 rural counties with fewer than 40,000 residents could self-serve from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was expanded to 24 hours a day three years later, for locations without a market or convenience store attached. The rules for rural counties include Crook and Jefferson counties, but not Deschutes.
In 2020, the state fire marshal changed the rules for a time in all counties, allowing self-serve due to the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing challenges.