Why Do Gas Station Windshield Stations Smell So Bad?
It isn't noticeable all year long, but when the temps get warm in Southwest Oklahoma, trying to clean your windshield becomes a Fear Factor level test of your gag reflex. Not that Lawtonians aren't used to horrible smells... You have the sewer at 38th and Lee, the paper mill at 82nd and Lee, and the landfill that occasionally wafts North to downtown when the weather conditions are just right... but that windshield cleaning station smell is crazy potent when you least expect it.
I know, I know... We all generally just accept it as a short inconvenience during an otherwise uneventful task, but did you know these things don't have to smell like death? Back when I was a teenager, I worked a summer at a Buc-Ee's way down in South Texas. You think that smell is bad here for a few months, it can linger year round on the warm Gulf Coast... but at that Buc-Ee's I worked at for a little part-time spending money, they never smelled bad and there's a reason why.
The next time you're trying to fill up, look at the windshield bucket that's almost always apart of the trash receptacle. You'll notice, even in the picture above, that it's not actually a part of the trash can, but rather a bucket that just sort of fits in a slot. You know why that is? It's so workers can remove the bucket occasionally and wash out the decaying sludge made of bug guts and anything else you clean off your car with that foamy wand. And I know it sounds gross, but Buc-Ee's made it simple. We would swap the buckets for ones cleaned and dried the day before. Just shoot a power washer into it, hang it up to dry, swap it back in a day or two and top off with the blue fluids. Easy-peasy.
It's not a part of the gas station job anybody would notice or give a person glory for doing, but people do unknowingly appreciate it when the general maintenance is done right. So the next time you notice that fowl stench when trying to make your car safer to drive, you might mention it very politely to someone inside. They might just go the extra mile and sort it out.