Fuel Stops—The Great Equalizer - Watch Your Back: How to Avoid the Most Dangerous Moments in Daily Life (2016)

Watch Your Back: How to Avoid the Most Dangerous Moments in Daily Life (2016)

Chapter 3 Fuel Stops—The Great Equalizer

People who live at the base of a volcano are often criticized for living dangerously. So are people who live in parts of the United States where tornadoes rip across the landscape year after year or nearby to rivers and bayous that repeatedly flood. Why don’t they just move on? The same goes for people who work at dangerous jobs. Sometimes the critique is at its heart caring yet unavoidably sharp. Other times the criticism is shortsighted, unmasking the speaker as selfish and mean. But there is one risk that nearly everyone across the nation—retired, student, or employed—takes on a regular basis without the least bit of concern. It has little to do with how much money we make or what we do to earn it. It may well be America’s most democratic threat. Everybody plays this game but we hardly notice the danger. The game is called “Gas Station.”

Before anyone thinks this is a pitch for electronic automobiles, let me say that I find being electrocuted just as scary as burning up. It’s just that years ago a trip to the gasoline station was in many ways much safer. After all, even the least polished gas station attendants were far more practiced than the average person when it comes to filling the gas tank.


Stopping for fuel or service used to mean putting your car in the hands of a professional. Uniformed gas station attendants were not only more adept at operating the pumps but also better able to spot potential problems such as a worn tire or leaking radiator. Coincidentally, the presence of a full-service attendant also provided a potential security guard. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

Technology has made the pumps themselves safer to use but from the standpoint of security from assault, kidnapping, and theft, the presence of a full service attendant also provided a potential security guard. Today, few gas stations are attached to a garage and the only attendant available is inside a convenience store or bulletproof booth. Now that all services available at the pump are self-service, personal security is your responsibility as well.

Some people say if we just paid cash for our fuel there would be less crime at the pump. They argue the complexity of setting into motion a purchase by credit or debit card is time-consuming and distracting. But whenever the cost of gasoline is high, I should think the necessary wad of cash would offer quite the magnet. And seeing how most people now pay for fuel with a credit or debit card, the vehicle itself is the more likely target of theft even when you consider that pirate card readers and mini cameras threaten the integrity of your account.

Theft of credit or debit card information at the gas pump is becoming more widespread because it is just so easy to do. The most common method is by the temporary installation of a skimmer. The skimmer fits into the slot so that when the card is scanned for payment at the pump it is also stored by the skimmer. The skimmer stores the information without interfering with the point of sale. That’s why many transactions can take place without the buyer knowing the information was stolen. Once the thief removes the skimmer, the stolen data is used for either online purchases or to create a counterfeit card.


Card readers with shields made from plastic are my least favorite because the facade can be purchased on the web as a spare part and modified to house a pirate reader, and then placed over the legitimate slot. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.


Whether the reader is designed to access information with the magnetic strip facing upwards or down, what you need to look for is a tight fit for your card without any trace of enlargement. If the slit appears to have been expanded (usually to one side) a miniaturized reader may have been temporarily installed to steal data directly from your card. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

Bluetooth technology has added another dimension to skimming, allowing for information to be downloaded wirelessly. This means it’s not necessary for the thief to physically remove the skimmer. Instead, they brazenly download the information they need over the air and leave the skimmer.

Until the charges from the online purchase or the counterfeit card appear on your statement, the victim may remain none the wiser. That’s why it’s important to check your accounts on a regular basis well before the bill comes in the mail.

The newest credit and debit cards include an icon that contains a radio frequency identification or RFID “chip.” However, this type of card can still be pirated if the card reader is not equipped with RFID technology. In fact, not all machines have, at the time of this writing, been updated to make use of the chip. The more common method of stealing data from cards with RFID technology is for the thief to use a scanner while getting as physically close as possible to the card even when it is inside a wallet or purse, literally pickpocketing the information electronically. Bear in mind that actual contact between the scanner and the card is not necessary.

Use of a debit card at a gasoline station is really a very bad idea. Given we’re all walking around with telephones that are also movie cameras it is possible to play back the “film” and copy the personal identification or PIN number. The more likely method of recording the PIN number is by use of a very small camera mounted facing the keyboard or on the buttonhole of a passerby. Combined with information from a skimmer, your account is at risk. Thankfully, bank issued debit cards can also be used as a credit card. When the option “debit or credit” comes up on the screen, choose credit.

There are a few ways to avoid theft of data at a gasoline station or anywhere else you may use a credit card. If your card is RFID-equipped, purchase a shielded wallet. Unlike the necessity of using lead to shield Superman from Kryptonite, the shield is constructed of a lightweight alloy so you may not even notice the extra weight in your pocket. Another solution, according to Internet chatter, is to wrap your card in aluminum foil, but this does not sound foolproof to me. What if the foil slips off and no longer protects the chip? Keep in mind that there is no good reason why someone should approach you while at the pump and anyone passing by could be trying to scan your card. In fact, not allowing strangers to get close to you should always be a part of your general security.

To avoid the presence of a skimming device, check the pump for tampering. If the face of the pump, especially around the card reader, appears to be damaged, it could mean the casing was removed and a skimmer was installed. The damage need not be severe. Small dents or scratches, or any sign of prying along the seams are meaningful signs. The reader area may also be marked with a security seal placed there by the collection agency. Make sure the seal is only one layer thick. Thieves have been known to cover a broken seal or a void sticker with a counterfeit sticker of their own proclaiming the mechanism is secure.

The only way to ensure that your credit or debit card will not be compromised is to pay by cash. When it comes to robbery, cash is king but not necessarily at the pump. Pay at the pump does not accept cash as it would a credit or debit card. In order to pay cash you must go to the pay window or inside the store. Thieves can tell if someone is likely to make a cash purchase when the driver parks their car at the pump, gets out, and walks towards the cashier. In order to complete this plan, a thief must have at least two essential components in place—some means of intimidation and a getaway plan. Of course, if you are flashing a large sum of money on your way to the pay window, the attraction might spontaneously set into motion a crime of opportunity. A quick mugging can take anyone by surprise. The safest way to fill up via cash is to approach the cashier as inconspicuously as possible and pass them the money. Once the money has been collected, the immediate threat is reduced.

If you are not paying with cash then the focus of the threat will more likely be theft of the automobile itself or its contents. Doors are typically unlocked or left open during a fuel stop and anything left on the seats is subject to a quick grab. Yet, a major obstacle to your security are the sheer variety and number of distractions that come from the credit card process and operating the pump. The challenge is how to remain vigilant while performing all the necessary functions. So let’s back up a bit and see if we can choreograph a secure fuel stop with a credit card using a video camera.

As described in Chapter 2, there are four levels of awareness corresponding to a color-coded system beginning with white. White is the state of mind wherein the person is least aware of their surroundings. Someone in the white may see people or objects that are out of place but make no conscious judgment as to the meaning behind them and therefore draw no conclusion regarding how they could affect their safety.

We began our development of a safer gasoline stop with a study of how someone in white state of mind, displaying no conscious effort to ensure his or her own safety, performs a gasoline stop. In the white state of awareness, the driver enters the gas station area and pulls up immediately to the first available pump, turns off the ignition, opens the car door, and moves towards the pump while reaching into the back pocket for his wallet. After fishing for the credit card, he removes it and adjusts its position so the electronic stripe matches the schematic on the reader. The card is then inserted and pulled out. The first question on the touch screen is “Debit or Credit?” Then, “Use keypad to register zip code and press enter. Do you want a car wash? Yes or no. Do you want a receipt? Choose grade of gasoline and push button. Or, would you like to purchase injection of fuel additive [as if they can prove the chemical is actually being delivered]?”


Pay at the pump can require as many as six different steps, including being asked if you have a rewards card, if you want your car washed, or would like to add a fuel conditioner. The one answer you should always give is selecting credit, not debit. It is not uncommon for thieves to use a cell phone to capture one’s PIN number on video. Combined with a physical pickpocketing, electronic pickpocketing of the RFID chip, or information gathered from a credit card skimmer installed in the reader slot, your account can be violated.

Some pumps actually begin with an on-screen question of “Are you a member?” for those who have a rewards card that gives a discount for each dollar spent at the pump or at the supermarket the station is affiliated with. Not only does this extra question add time to the transaction, the card reader may not respond if you ignore it and insert your credit card first. You might not realize why the reader is not responding until you have swiped your card a couple of times. Furthermore, the answers to each question appearing on the screen may need to be answered on the adjoining push buttons and not directly on the screen. Just because there are arrows or other visual calibrations next to each question on the screen, it doesn’t always mean it actually functions as a touch screen. Add to this the sensitivity and condition of the buttons or the touch screen and distractions mount up, not to mention frustrations. The next step is to actually handle the pump.

In reviewing a white state of mind fuel stop on videotape, one aspect became immediately apparent. We never saw the face or even the front side of the person getting gas until it they were done with the payment process. Until then the buyer stood with head down totally engrossed in the command screen, completely unaware of his surroundings. It was as if the buyer was in his own visual cocoon.

His attention was completely focused within the small space bordered by the driver’s side door, the pump, and the pay screen. The problem was, if we could see the customer’s lack of attention on the video, so could anyone else that might be watching. Now, let’s compare the fuel stop in white mindset with a stop performed at the same gasoline station but with the buyer in a vigilant yellow state of awareness.

The driver enters the fuel station and drives completely around the station before choosing the pump he wants to use and then drives alongside it. The car stops but the driver does not immediately exit. Instead the driver can be seen checking his rearview mirror and his side mirrors left and right almost as if he were on the highway preparing to change lanes. He then begins to exit the car. With the door open, he stands and looks left and right before moving away from beside the driver’s seat. The open door is still between his body and the pump, blocking anyone that might approach from the front of the car. Looking side to side, he closes the door while simultaneously pulling the wallet from his back pocket. He does not look down at his wallet until it is open and his fingers are indexed above the row of credit card slots.


This gentleman is completely consumed by the task of answering questions from the card reader. He should be pacing his actions, looking around to his left and right after answering each question posed by the machine.

A quick look down confirms his choice of credit card and once he finds the card reader slot he looks slightly to his right before setting the card into the reader. With card swiped, he wastes no time returning it to his wallet, and after checking visually left and right puts his wallet back in his pocket. His head appears to be on a swivel as he brings his hand up to the screen and for each question appears to look left and right.

The buyer in the white state of mind showed no visual field of concentration beyond the line drawn between the pump and the filler cap. The driver in the yellow state of mind continued to punctuate his routine with surveillance, breaking down the procedure into smaller individual chores such as removing the filler handle, head on a swivel, placing the handle into the filler hole, and looking left and right while setting the release.

What to do while the car is being filled with fuel is certainly a valid question. Sitting inside the car allows for you to lock the doors. While this does offer a level of protection from nuisances such as panhandlers or window washers, it also means that in the event of a carjacking you may be trapped inside and unable to escape. And it is unclear if the car is driven off in an emergency while connected to the pump whether or not a fuel spill will result. It’s a matter of the type of equipment in play.

Most people tend to stay outside the car while they fill up. In observing people in the white state of awareness, checking e-mail or texting on their phone while standing by the filler cap or while sitting inside the car seems to be common. Those in yellow state of awareness remain alert. In terms of positioning yourself for surveillance, standing with your back against the car between the hose and the driver’s seat is considered more effective than with your back to the pump. This limits the amount of blind spots to deal with.

Another way to spend fill time is to inspect the exterior of the vehicle. At constant risk are the condition of the tires as well as the headlights and taillights. After starting the pump, walking the perimeter of the vehicle will offer additional surveillance opportunities.

As outlined in Chapter 1, the number one reason more precautions are not regularly practiced is because they take extra time. The biggest time consumer in the yellow awareness fuel stop was circling of the premises before stopping at a pump. In reviewing videotapes of several different fuel stops at different locations, driving the perimeter of the typical gas station consumed 30-35 seconds on average when compared to just driving up to the nearest open pump. That’s just not very much time considering what may be happening in the duration.

Any time you pull into a gas station there can be predators watching for the purpose of sizing you up and measuring risk versus reward—do you have something they want versus how easy would it be to steal it from you? This is one of the Five Stages of Violent Crime referred to as Interview, where the criminal decides if you are safe to attack. If you can demonstrate strong vigilance and awareness in your mannerisms, you have a better chance of tipping the “how easy would it be” part of the equation in your favor. So would choosing a pump in full view of the front door of the station. This would introduce greater fear of being seen adding to risk. If during your drive around (performing an interview of your own) you can see or merely suspect that you are being sized up, not stopping and going somewhere else is an even better response. Keep in mind that the most important preemptive behavioral response in the fuel stop game is to not be desperate for lack of fuel, forcing you to stop somewhere that you don’t feel safe. Don’t wait until your gas gauge is on empty.

Being worried about extra time can also make you act in desperation. When we decided to find another gas station because there were as many as five young men waiting by telephones gawking at us like they had nothing else on their minds besides our entrance, all it cost us was time. At another location, our other fuel stop was delayed because we noticed that the premises also seemed to double as a rendezvous for day laborers and employers. As much as we could empathize with the men waiting in need of a job, we thought the incidence of panhandling or other forms of unwanted interaction were inevitable. One stop we should have not made was when we failed to recognize that the car parked at the opposite side of the pump was not actually being filled. The driver remained seated in his car and glared across at us trying to get our attention, calling out “Sir, Sir?” Evidently this was his style of begging for fuel money. Not leaving his car meant he could have had a weapon out of our view. Holding to a strict protocol hovering between yellow and orange awareness, and using body language to openly display our mistrust and willingness to act, we completed our fuel stop and left.

If you are wondering how much longer it takes to perform a fuel stop that is punctuated by a series of “stop, look, and listen” head swivels, you must remember that movement of the head must be accompanied by eyes that are prepared to take in new information. The eyes are the fastest physical coordination we have but you must have a willingness to see and understand what is taking place in the field of view. According to the our video studies, a scan with recognition may only require 2.2 to 2.5 seconds on average.

You can get a feel for how long about two and one-half seconds actually is by verbally repeating one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi. Maybe you learned this technique when you were a kid. If you only had three friends and a football you could still strike up a game of two-hand touch. One guy hiked the football to his quarterback and then ran out for a pass. Your teammate went out to cover the receiver while you stayed behind and counted to three-Mississippi before rushing the quarterback. But just like how fast you count relies on an honor system, you’ve got to concentrate on focusing around you and relaying information to the brain. Even police and military recruits have fallen into the trap of mere choreography while performing a check-six drill in training (turning to see who or what is behind you), failing to see an assistant drill instructor pointing a dummy gun directly at them.

The elapsed time from the moment you stop at the pump and exit the vehicle is perhaps the most important interval. You are still relatively secure in the vehicle with the doors locked and windows raised. You are not yet tethered to the pump and the engine should still be running so the possibility of escape remains a viable option. Upon reviewing multiple videos of our fuel stops, the elapsed time it takes to complete surveillance from the driver’s seat, including the use of the right and left side and rearview mirrors, is approximately twelve to thirteen seconds. Of course, that is if you see nothing out of the ordinary that requires further checking before deciding to get out of the car or leave.

Ultimately, the fuel stop performed in the white state of mind is going to be faster than one performed punctuated by purposeful surveillance and recognition. Unless, of course, the fuel stop is interrupted by an assault or merely being hassled by a panhandler. To help prevent being caught by surprise, punctuate your actions with instances of comprehension and judgment by pacing yourself. Pacing is a method of balancing out moments of distraction or intense concentration with moments of surveillance. For every period of distraction or moment in which you are devoting complete concentration to the chore at hand, there should also be a corresponding period of looking around resulting in genuine recognition of what is before you. The outward appearance of someone who is punctuating or pacing themselves with moments of surveillance should project an attitude bordering on arrogance, thus offering a higher state of awareness to onlookers as a warning.


Answering questions posed by the order screen can be mesmerizing, completely separating your attention from what is going on around you. But this man is pacing himself by punctuating his operation of the keyboard with quick scans of his surroundings. In addition, his demeanor is intimidating rather than timid.

So, how much longer does it take to begin fueling if the only interruption to the process was the yellow awareness protocol described above? Let’s calculate using maximum rather than average elapsed times as our Delta for each visual scan.

Circling the premises before parking

35 seconds

Looking before exiting the automobile

13 seconds

Standing beside the car before stepping to the pump

5 seconds

Scanning left and right during processes before swiping card

2.5 seconds

Answering questions:

Are you a member?

2.5 seconds

Debit or credit?

2.5 seconds

Enter Zip code

2.5 seconds

Car wash?

2.5 seconds

Do you want a receipt?

2.5 seconds

Total Elapsed Time

68 seconds

If you think you do not have the patience for taking the extra time to perform so many individual scans you are not alone. As a team we were surprised ourselves how little extra time was necessary to increase security many times over. Given the elapsed real time was only about 68 seconds, it’s easy to start a campaign for repeated surveillance with the slogan, “It only takes a minute to be safer.”

What Case Studies Tell Us

One of the earliest lessons in personal safety passed down from parent to child is to “Look both ways before crossing the street.” Another lesson is “Don’t take candy from a stranger.” How about don’t give candy to a stranger. That would be a good example of the White level of awareness.

In June of 2015, a woman parked at a gas station in Houston, Texas, was approached by a man who announced that it was his birthday. He wasn’t looking for food but wanted a beer. According to a report on KPRC-TV, the local NBC affiliate, the woman said, “OK, it’s your birthday. I’ll help you get a beer.” But when she opened her purse, the man punched her in the face, took her purse, and ran. All this happened with the woman’s two-year old daughter sitting in the back seat.1

Part and parcel of the color-coded awareness system is when and where you are. One must ask if the woman were in a bar instead of at a gas station would she have bought a complete stranger a beer? In a bar the woman might have been more judgmental, perhaps wondering if the man considered himself a likely suitor. There is no indication how the man was dressed when he approached the woman at the gas station but if he were in the condition of a panhandler inside the bar wouldn’t the woman assume a more defensive posture? The man was captured and held for police by a Good Samaritan who took it upon himself to assume the risk of being injured.

Obviously, the man had sized her up and perhaps the woman was intimidated. The lesson here is to put up a tough front and appear unapproachable, not to mention keeping the doors locked with the windows rolled up. Each of these precautions would not only provide a boundary but also broadcast a yellow or orange state of awareness. Both the woman and her child were at risk of kidnapping. Ultimately a third person was put at risk as well, even if it was by choice.

The incident could likely have been avoided if the gas station was just that, a place to buy gasoline and nothing else. Without the attraction of alcohol sales (or food and cigarettes) there would be little reason for people to congregate beyond the necessity of refueling. Several Crime Stoppers videos reaching out for possible witnesses are available on the Internet. Many include images of perpetrators that moments before the crime were just standing around in front of a convenience store. One such video posted by the Atlanta Police Department in 2013 shows a carjacking and kidnapping. First we see two men clearly walking from in front of the store to the victim, who was parked at the pump furthest from the camera and the front of the store. The two men split up, approaching from behind the pump on the opposite side from the victim. One perpetrator comes at the victim from the front of the car and other from the rear corner. Police said one man pulled a gun and ordered the victim back into his car. He was driven to a location and robbed.2

Another type of crime typically perpetrated by loiterers is referred to as “sliding.” Sliding is a crime of stealth that could be described as pickpocketing your car. The thief, now commonly referred to as the “slider” looks for cars with open windows and any sort of valuables, preferably a purse, left on the seat. The slider crouches or crawls closely along the passenger side of the car beneath eye level while the victim is refueling. He or she then reaches up through the open window and removes the item, then moves away crouching so as not to be seen.


Many Crime Stoppers videos, which are in effect pleas to the public for witnesses to come forward, show that robberies and kidnappings are more likely to occur at pumps located furthest from the front door of the gas station or convenience store. The card readers located at the station’s outer perimeter are also more likely to be fit with a skimming device to steal credit or debit card information. It’s no wonder why this pump facing away from the front door and closest to the street shows the most abuse.


Sliding is a stealth method of theft that takes place at a gas station, but you wouldn’t know it from the image of the man crouching as he exits the passenger side of the vehicle. His truck is parked so far away from the pump it’s not even in the picture. This serves to reduce the distance he must travel to the target vehicle as he “slides” up to the passenger side of the victim’s car and reaches inside the window. The first clue that a slider may be lying in wait is a vehicle parked inordinately distant from the pumps. In addition, any time you see a vehicle parked with the fuel door on the opposite side from the pump should also raise suspicion.

Sliders can also work with an accomplice. They arrive in a car and park near the pump on the opposite island, acting as if they are going to get gas. But the slider car is usually parked further away from the pump than normal. This position is to provide visual cover as the passenger (who may be slouching down in the seat) gets out and moves below eye level to the open car window. If you see a car parked further away than normal while you are refueling, you should be suspicious and make sure your windows are up. You can also move to another pump. When you get out of the car use the electronic lock to keep all the doors secure. Let yourself out by manually unlocking the driver’s side door only.

In July of 2013, NBCSanDiego.com reported that a man that tried to kidnap a woman at a gas station in Chula Vista had been arrested. The story begins with a key phrase reading, “A man caught on surveillance tape …”3Indeed, many people feel safe because of the presence of video surveillance. However, it is also very common for perpetrators to cover their faces.

Video surveillance is more often thought of as contributing to evidence in an investigation after the fact. But it’s much better to survive an attack and serve as a corroborating witness in aiding the capture and prosecution of the attacker. That’s exactly what happened in the Chula Vista case because the victim didn’t give up.


Walking around the vehicle to check the condition of the tires is a habit that can protect you from a breakdown on the road. So is taking wide turns at each corner. This vantage point gives the car owner plenty of time to react beyond the reach of a slider who may react violently upon discovery.

According to a report by the Chula Vista Police Department, on July 14, 2013, at around 11:50 p.m., Thomas Paciornik entered the lot of the 7-Eleven station on Hilltop Drive and Orange Avenue, stopping his car near to the victim’s vehicle. He introduced himself as Tom and told her she was pretty. He asked her to go with him. She refused and got inside her own car. Paciornik, who later pled guilty to felony attempted kidnapping among other charges, tried to remove her from her car, grabbing her by arm and kissing her. Enraged by failing to remove her from her car, Pacriornik returned to his own vehicle and backed into the front of the victim’s car in order to prevent her from driving forward. In addition, he punctured one of the woman’s tires and reportedly told her that she had five seconds to get into his car.

The woman refused again and Paciornik left the scene. But when the victim pulled her car into a parking stall at the gas station, Paciornik returned and parked his vehicle so that the woman was not able to open her driver’s side door. When witnesses began yelling that police were on the way, Paciornik finally fled the scene.

The perpetrator was tracked via the license plate visible on the surveillance video but not to his home. Instead, Paciornik was arrested after being involved in yet another incident. After the attempted abduction at the gas station, he subsequently valet-parked at the Viejas Casino in Alpine. Police were called to a disturbance when Paciornik was unable to claim the vehicle due to improper documentation. Initially arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance, good police work tied him to the assault at the gas station.4

Video surveillance can be effective only if the camera can pick up features of personal identification and/or a license plate number. This often requires the proper camera angle. The victim was able to provide key points of identification such as marks on his face that added to the veracity of the video because she survived. She survived because she did not give up. That her resistance caused the action of the crime to shift from one side of the gas station to another likely played a part in providing the camera with the necessary angle to capture the license plate number as well as the perpetrator’s image and any smaller detail that would help identify the perpetrator or his car. While the victim’s continued resistance almost gave police enough time to reach the scene, the actions of the resistance also alerted witnesses whose pronouncement of the police being on the way short-circuited the attack and likely prevented an escalation of violence.

Preemptive Behavioral Response at the Gas Station


Refuel regularly to avoid running low on fuel.

Pick a station that only sells fuel to reduce the amount of loitering.

Avoid stations that sell alcohol.

Avoid stations that serve as a meeting place for day laborers.

Choose a station that is well lit.

Circle the station before stopping to see who is watching you.

If you are being surveilled, leave the premises.

Check for anyone hanging around for no apparent reason.

If there are people loitering, leave the premises.

Be suspicious of cars parked too far from the pump.

Choose a pump that is in view of the cashier or the front door.

Before exiting the vehicle, look around just as if you were changing lanes on a highway.

Make sure your windows are up.

Unlock only the driver’s side door when exiting.

Upon exiting the vehicle, stand and look around before approaching the pump.

If you are paying cash, walk directly inside. Tell the clerk what number pump you intend to use. If you are not filling up the tank, hand the clerk the exact change without announcing the dollar amount.

Always use the credit option on your debit card to avoid exposing your personal identification number. If you must use a debit card with PIN number, go inside the store.

Before swiping your card, inspect the condition of the card reader for damage, even as minor as scratches.

Inspect the seal on the card reader for tampering or multiple layers.

When charging at the pump, do not let anyone approach you while operating the credit card reader.

When using a credit card, punctuate fulfillment of the commands with looking left and right, behind you, and across to the opposite side of the pump.

If you remain outside the car, stand with your back against the vehicle or walk around the vehicle to inspect the tires.

Do not use your cell phone while refueling, whether you remain standing or sitting inside the car.