Essay by David A. Cantor.
It becomes easy to anthropomorphize the pumps with dials, hoses and construction that make them look as diverse as passengers waiting at a bus stop. The older pumps, with their rusted patina and vertical dial design, can look like characters with faces while the newer pumps, with their shiny paint and gleaming edges, can look more like musclebound action heroes.

As Evan notes, “We build these pumps and so they seem to mimic us."

Beyond base camps for our mobility, or discarded reminders of irresponsible consumption, these pumps chart another development of design and function. The older pumps among the weeds, with rounded corners and the now-still floating ball flow-gauge, have given way to squat, hard-cornered dispensers, protected by bright yellow sentries at four corners.

History and economics can often combine to produce hard-edged and insular reactions.

Photographs by
Evan Schneider.