Boys bring back service with a smile

College-bound 12-year-olds top off the tank and clean the windshield

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— Gas station attendants are almost as rare in Colorado as boreal toads, peregrine falcons and the pike minnow. But a pair of Steamboat 12-year-olds have taken the species off the endangered list.

Charlie Peddie and Abe Maynard were hustling to pump gas and clean windshields at the Sinclair station on U.S. 40 Friday afternoon.

Peddie cleaned the windshield on Mark Peterson's pickup and Peterson didn't even make a gasoline purchase he had just stopped in for a cold soda. Peterson appeared startled when Peddie offered to clean his glass.

"I wasn't going to let him do it for free," Peterson exclaimed. "At least a 'Hi, how are you, here's a buck.'"

Maynard and Peddie work at the station from 2 until 6 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Their employment status is solidified by the fact that Peddie's father, Jon, is a partner in the gas station.

A check of a half-dozen local gas stations on Friday showed that the Sinclair was selling regular unleaded at one of the lower prices in town, if not the lowest. So, it's safe to report Charlie's "old man" hasn't built the price of his pump attendants and their rare level of service into the price of gasoline.

Charlie Peddie is saving a portion of his wages and tips for a Jeep Grand Cherokee when he turns 17 or 18. He'll also put some of it toward his tuition at snowboard camp on the slopes of Mount Hood, Ore., later this summer.

His father allows him to reserve a portion of his earnings as a per diem.

"No work is fun," young Peddie proclaimed. "But this isn't hard. It's not bad."

The two boys began their Friday shift by stocking the ice cooler in the gas station convenience store, then leapt into the fray at the pumping islands.

Maynard was chatting up Anne Rooney of Steamboat while she showed him how to check the oil under the hood of her sporty red compact.

"I try to engage with the people, so they don't just sit there," Maynard said.

Rooney was charmed.

"I came by just for this fine service," she said.

Maynard was uncertain whether his talents as a conversationalist helps his tips, but neither boy could be termed subtle both were sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "College Bound tips appreciated."

"You get the better tips form RV's," Peddie observed.

His biggest single tip this summer was a 10 spot. Maynard cleared $37.42 on one particularly profitable Friday afternoon.

Maynard says, "yes," he's saving for college, but after chatting with him for a few minutes it's clear he's more focused on becoming an Olympic skier in the mogul event in 2010.

Both boys said they aren't overly taxed by their work schedule they have plenty of time for skateboarding and mountain biking the other four days of the week.

Neither can recall the day when every car that pulled into a service station received service.

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