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4 Things You Won't Believe It's Illegal to Buy in America

#2. Pumping Your Own Gas Is Outlawed in Oregon

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I wonder how many people have already tuned out to leave a comment about how you also can't pump your own gas in New Jersey. I hope it's a lot. I like to give people a lot of outs when reading my stuff. It's so long!

Anyway, it's true: In the states of New Jersey and Oregon, you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Why this is the case is a question people have been asking for quite some time, as evidenced by the mountains of answers to the question already available on the Internet. This Mental Floss article attributes it to both states just not trusting you to not blow shit up when you pump your own gas.

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Honestly, I don't trust most of you, either.

As a result, gas station attendants have to go through a safety training course designed with nothing else in mind than seeing to it that the arthritic 75-year-old who's currently entering his sixth decade in the gas pumping game doesn't accidentally set you ablaze while you wait in your vehicle. Because that always makes for the worst gas station trip ever, am I right? The one where you're just trying to enjoy your day when some lug nut accidentally sets himself on fire?

Actually, the safety argument did probably hold some water back before measures were put in place that made pumping gas a less explosion-laden experience. Of course, those measures started showing up as early as the 1940s, and self-service stations started becoming the law of the land shortly thereafter ... except in Oregon and New Jersey.

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Just more evidence that I've forgotten New Jersey. No reading necessary!

It's hard to imagine that this boils down to anything other than money. Obviously, a lot of jobs would be lost if the bans were lifted, but I doubt it's the gas-pumping jobs people are worried about. Especially not gas station owners. Additional training probably means paying more and all sorts of other hassles they'd prefer to eliminate if they could.

No, I imagine the answer lies somewhere in the framework needed at the state level to keep a stupid law like this in place. That red tape and hassle probably keeps food on a lot of tables in those states, and somehow, they've managed to successfully argue for their existence for decades now. Of course, state law means state agencies. In Oregon, things apparently run through the Cardlock Program, which is funded through license and customer fees. In other words, repealing these laws would result in gas stations no longer having to pay money to the state.

While it's definitely a bullshit law, the real victims here appear to be the gas and oil companies. If that's the case, I care a lot less.

#1. New Jersey's Premier Shopping Destination Bans Shopping on Sundays

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Most everyone is familiar with the concept of blue laws. Basically, they're measures enacted to restrict the sale of certain items at certain times. Like how you can't buy liquor on Sundays in some states. These tend to be laws enacted back when people took their religion seriously. Like Puritans and shit. That party-rocking group gets the blame for Minnesota's blue laws, which used to ban everything from working to making loud noises on Sunday. In most cases, common sense prevailed, and these measures were overturned at various points throughout history. Bans on auto sales and liquor remain, again, because that's what the Puritans wanted.

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These people keep you from getting hammered on Sunday.

Several states in the Northeast, including Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, still observe shopping restrictions from the Puritan days, but no one in that region puts blue laws to more insane use than New Jersey.

Specifically, Paramus, New Jersey, which was once ranked the 21st best place to live ... in New Jersey.

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To be fair, Newark didn't even make the list.

That seems like a fairly low showing, considering it's in the heart of Bergen County, which happens to be the most visited shopping destination in the state. Even better, Paramus itself is home to the biggest malls in the county. So, within that retail kingdom, Paramus is king. And they fucking act like it.

As you've probably gathered, blue laws are the problem. Bergen County has lots of them, but none are as restrictive as what Paramus makes people deal with. Essentially, on Sundays in Paramus, New Jersey, you can't buy anything. The words used are "worldly employment," if that gives you any idea of what kind of things you can't do. There are a few exceptions. You can still buy food and medications. Just because it's a law intended to serve one specific religion doesn't mean it's not flexible. Hey, there's even an exclusion for cigarettes, because religious people are sometimes huge hypocrites.

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects
This sign actually means cigarettes are exempt from the laws of God.

No booze, though. No booze, no clothes, no shoes, no video games ... no "worldly" fun, basically. It's that word that makes this seem like a law driven by dedication to Jesus, but it's definitely not. The real problem is traffic. Because it's such a heavily visited shopping destination, Bergen County in general is plagued with traffic jams on a daily basis.

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Paramus is basically this and malls.

They don't keep their blue laws on the books to respect the Lord; they keep them on the books so you stay the fuck out of Paramus, New Jersey, for at least one day each week.

Does that sound dickish to you? If so, you're the dick. It's not like they aren't giving anything up by asking for a day of solitude each week. Did you see the part where I said Paramus is the biggest shopping destination in the state? People would spend a lot of money there on Sundays if they could, probably on a wide variety of things. Nevertheless, voters in Paramus have shot down every attempt to overturn the blue laws and have vowed to do so from now until the end of time.

See, some things in life really are more important than money. It just so happens that you staying the fuck out of town for a day is one of those things. Good for them.


Adam would like to thank Diana Cook for her help with this article and for introducing him to the best puppy in the world. We miss you, Roxy.

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