I went to lunch not long ago with two executives of one of the biggest gas and oil companies in America. They were discussing the company’s new “All-Round Service,” which was aimed at giving each customer just a little more than his money’s worth in mere lubricants. The company had gone to extreme pains and considerable expense to work out a routine of ten services that each station attendant could perform quickly and efficiently while waiting on the customer. These ten services were called the “All-Round” Service because they were so planned that the attendant could complete them all in one circling of the car.

It had seemed a splendid idea — and it was. But the results in actual practice were disappointing.


It was the same old story — the service men had been provided with a chart, showing them what to do, but they had failed to learn it. And a chart tacked to the inside wall of the station was of little use to them while they were outside filling up the tank.

I said: “Well, what are these ten services your men can’t remember?”

Just as I suspected, these two executives looked at each other inquiringly, and then began to laugh. They couldn’t remember them either!


Because we remember only what we know — and we know only what we remember.

You, of course, having mastered ten key words of my mental filing system, would be able to learn all the steps of this splendid idea in no more than ten minutes. Would you like to prove it?

As the station attendant steps to the car to receive the driver’s order, he is supposed to:

1. Polish left half of windshield.

2. Ask, “Fill up with Ethyl?”

3. Screw cap tightly on gasoline tank, to avoid spilling.

4. Clean rear window.

5. Check tires as circle of car is made.

6. Polish right half of windshield.

7. Clean headlight lenses.

8. Service the radiator.

9. Ask, “Check your oil, sir?”

10. Ask, “Does your battery need water?”

Now, you already know that these ten services are going to be performed as you circle the car. As you form the associations, imagine yourself circling the car. It will give you extra help.

1. (Alarm clock.) See bunches of shining, polished alarm clocks hung all over the windshield. They’re so bright they dazzle your eyes. Reach out and polish left half of windshield with alarm clock.

2. (Trousers.) Ethel’s trousers (your cousin Ethel, or your Aunt Ethel — everybody knows an Ethel) have been dipped in Ethyl gasoline. Ethel is soaked, and her trousers pockets are filled with Ethyl gasoline. Ask, _"Fill up with Ethyl?" _

3. (Chair.) See a gasoline can teetering back and forth on a rocking chair. You rush over to screw down the cap to stop the gasoline from slopping over on the chair. Screw cap on gasoline tank, to avoid spilling.

4. (Table.) You carry a table around to the back of the car; then you climb up on the table to reach the rear window. Clean rear window.

5. (Newspaper.) Newspapers are plastered all over the tires, and you can’t pull them off. The newspaper headline reads: TIRE BURSTSFIVE KILLED. All cars should have five tires, including the spare. Check tires.

6. (Automobile.) The license number 666,666 has been written all over the windshield with chalk. You scrub it off with a rag wrapped around a toy automobile (feel it), one six at a time. You can see the reflection of an automobile in the polished windshield. Polish right half of windshield.

7. (Policeman.) See the glare of the headlights flooding millions of policemen, who signal you to stop. A policeman is scrubbing the headlight lenses. Clean headlight lenses.

8. (Revolving door.) The revolving doors are stuffed with radiators hissing and boiling over, and steam shoots out of the revolving door. Service the radiator.

9. (Mailbox.) The mailbox is coated with oil, and oil is dripping out of it as you slide a check in the slot. The check gets soaked with greasy oil from the mailbox. Ask, “Check your oil, sir?”

10. (General-delivery window.) A battery stands in the general-delivery window, with wires attached to the bars of the window. Sparks shoot out of the general-delivery window, and you douse it and the battery with water. Ask, “Does your battery need water?”

The mental filing system will allow you to commit the ten steps of the “All-Round Service” to your memory.