100 years ago

100 years ago

I have spent an absurd amount of time and energy planning a 250 mile round trip. I could just hypermile it but I don't want to compromise....that's not the point of a Tesla, right? The whole Kafka-esque saga got me to thinking whether the first car pioneers had the same problems of multiple networks, multiple sources of information, of patchy veracity; broken or blocked charge points, etc etc

100 years ago you had to go to a chemists to buy petrol for your new fangled automobile. I can imagine the conversation:

"Good morning sir how might I assist?"

"I found your establishment in my Pharmacists' Almanac. It suggested that you sold petroleum spirit. I'd like to buy some for my automobile"

"Petroleum spirit? What is that?"

"Well it's for making the automobile go"

"What an odd notion. Sorry sir I cannot help."

"But the Pharmacists' Almanac clearly says that I can purchase petroleum spirit here"

"I regret sir that you must be mistaken"

10 minutes later, having consulted three other gazettes and almanacs, all of which list different and rarely overlapping pharmacies, the gentleman arrives at second pharmacy with tank running on fumes

"Good morning sir, I see you have one of those new fangled automobiles. Do you care for it?"

"Oh yes it is marvellous"

"I doubt they will ever catch on. In any event, how might I assist?"

"I wonder if you might be able to vend to me a portion of petroleum spirit?"

"Why yes sir, I believe that we do have some. One moment please"

"I'm awfully sorry sir, but the fishmonger delivered this morning. He saw the container of petroleum but assumed that no one would ever use it so piled the empty remnants of his cart on top of it. I am afraid it has been iced and is inaccessible."

Another 10 minutes go by. The car has by now been abandoned and the search for the elusive petroleum continues on foot.

"Good morning sir. You seem distracted. What perturbs you?"

"I have spent the morning driving around seeking petroleum spirit for my automobile"

"How fascinating sir. Personally I cannot imagine that they would ever catch on....I mean, what would I do should I need to visit the other side of the country at a moment's notice. This likelihood would keep me awake at night I know"

"Well once we have a single network of vendors for Petroleum spirit, then one will be able to drive the length and breadth of the country without concern. Imagine it: just like the railroads, with stations in every city and town. Indeed one might think of it as a network of petroleum stations."

"Really sir...what an amusing fancy. It is hard to imagine why any right minded traveller should wish to embark upon a trip of such folly, when a horse simply requires a grassy bank or field to refuel for the night."

"Please, I must you have any petroleum spirit?"
"Why yes sir, yes we do. Would that type 1, type 2, type 3, BS1363 or ChaDeMo petroleum sir?"

"Type 2 please"

"Oh sorry sir we only sell Type 3. The pharmacist was visited by a VERY persuasive French gentleman who assured him that Type 3 petroleum spirit would be the only one that anyone would ever really need".