When local businesses began making changes in the wake of the coronavirus, Larry DeLorenzo, partner of the Exxon gas station on Bent Creek Road in Auburn, had the phrase, “Neighbors helping neighbors” stuck in his mind.
As a result, he and his employees are doing their part to help those most susceptible to the virus.
DeLorenzo’s station began offering to pump gas for seniors from 8-10 a.m. Monday through Friday to reduce situations in which seniors could potentially be exposed to the virus. The service already is a popular one, as 19 people took the station up on its offer through the first two days.
“The big concern is with their contact with so many different surfaces,” he said. “As far as the time, so many of these supermarkets and pharmacies are opening at 7 a.m. to give the seniors the first hour, so we figured on the way home after they finish their shopping they can stop by and we’ll pump it for them.
“That way, that insulates them from metal surfaces, pin pads and touch screens. They’re dealing with me, but I’m taking precautions — wearing gloves, sanitizing and spraying myself as well as all the fixtures in the store. (The offer to pump) was trying to put a barrier in place for them so they’re not facing further exposure.
“I’m not carding people. If somebody tells me they want me to pump their gas while I’m out there, I’m pumping,” said DeLorenzo, who bought the station in 2007.
He said the feedback has all been positive, plus he’s observed that most of the seniors now buying gas weren’t customers before. He added that generally people will just go to the gas station closest to them.
Pumping gas for seniors has been one of several changes DeLorenzo and the station’s staff have made as a result of the coronavirus.
Because most would-be customers have been staying home at night, the station has cut back two hours in the evening and is only open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
It has also incorporated recommendations for wiping down all the surfaces in the store, which the employees do every two hours.
“We did a pretty good job (of cleaning) before, but now it’s like clockwork,” DeLorenzo said.
He said the inside of his convenience store also has seen an uptick in customers. DeLorenzo reasoned that with restaurants shutting down or at least closing their dining areas, locals are stopping at stations like his for a hot dog or a candy bar.
DeLorenzo has two signs out front letting passers-by know that the station is bringing more service to its customers. The situation is part of a new normal for DeLorenzo and his employees.
“We do what we can do to help,” DeLorenzo said. “We’re going to just do what we do and try and do it right.”