June 6, 2013

A State of Exaggeration

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Everything is bigger in Texas! You have heard it all your life. Each State has a claim to fame but none are so bold as to claim “everything” is bigger or better. I have always been a fan of Texas but even a fan has trouble with “everything”. But I must say I was impressed on my last trip there, by of all things, their large service stations.

I had visited a chain of service stations called Buc-ee’s, their mascot is a beaver. They are large but now they have set a new standard for “Bigger in Texas”. A year ago they opened a new store in New Braunfels which is their largest. As you enter the town on I-35 from Austin there sits beneath a 100 foot Buc-ee’s sign;  67,000 square feet of service station. Out front are 60 fuel pumps with enough headroom for the largest of RV’s to ease under and not crowd the next pump in front of it. Ready and waiting on the perimeter of the lot were three tanker trucks, the only trucks allowed on the lot, standing at the ready for more fuel. No 18 Wheelers allowed at Buc-ee’s.

Inside you will find 80 soda dispensers, 4 Icee machines, a wall of candy, a farmers market with fruit and produce and of course tubing and water gear for fun on the Guadalupe River. Once you decide on your purchase there are 31 cash registers waiting to serve you. Many go there just for the food and shopping. You can find just about anything except lotto tickets. They do not sell them because they say it tends to slow service.

One of the owners revealed on an ABC World News with Charlie Gibson their marketing concept is based on none of the above but on the need for clean bathrooms while traveling. Ladies understand how finding a clean bathroom in a service station is all but impossible. Not at Buc-ee’s. The bathrooms are as large as some I have seen in stadiums so there is no waiting. The real draw is the individual stalls which some say have been copied for new home design. Their bathrooms are so well known that their billboards tell you “to hold it” there is a Buc-ee’s so many miles ahead. Another stated, “Restrooms so clean we leave mints on the Urinals”.

In a “State of Exaggeration” this is no exaggeration. This brought to mind that fiction writers may not be doing justice to the truth of what is actually out there. The next time you are taking great liberties with your story, you may want to go online and see if you have really gone far enough. The truth may shadow you imagination. 

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