Tuesday, February 3, 2009

QT, How Do We Love (and Hate) Thee?

My earliest memory of QuikTrip, a Tulsa-based convenience store chain that has been a fixture in the area since 1958, involves a preschool-age me begging my parents for a Squirt (I really just wanted the plastic bendy straw) on our way out to have some weekend T-Town fun.

My most recent QuikTrip experience was not so carefree. I was poking along through the parking lot at a southeast Tulsa location just last night when I noticed some weirdo at a gas pump who was not only gabbing away on his cell phone, but was also smoking. I couldn't believe my eyes. As I gawked at what was happening before me, Aaron had the presence of mind to yell, "Oh my God, DRIVE AWAY!"

I have many other memories of QuikTrip bookended by these happy and not-so-happy experiences. My favorite was probably the morning my dog and I woke up to a QT taquito on my doorstep. After some sleuthing, I found out this spicy sunrise scene was the handiwork of this Okie blogger. That whole experience was weird, but it was so, I don't know...delightfully QuikTripy. I think of it at least every other time my dog has to pee, which is a lot. Our lawn is what you might call well-seasoned.

In an informal, impromptu survey of several TDT readers, the stand-out thing everyone loves about QuikTrip is its staff. Those surveyed said QT cashiers are the friendliest in town. That they seem happy - enthusiastic, even - is no wonder. QT has consistently ranked in Fortune's Top 100 Companies to Work For list - the company ranked 27th this year, up from 28th in 2008. Benefits, wages and the QT company culture are reportedly huge draws.

Readers also liked location convenience, well-stocked stores, QT food (Irritated Tulsan does these great QT food reviews - read the latest one here) and clean bathrooms.

While TDT readers said QT locations are "well-lit" and "feel safe," most mentioned the urge to do the watch-your-back glance when visiting QT as their least favorite aspect of patronizing the convenience store chain. Besides being wary of off-putting customers, some readers complained about what other readers loved: the food and the state of the bathrooms.

Either way, rare is the transplanted Tulsan who can deny feemin' somethin' fierce when they no longer have access to a QT. During my first year of college, I planned many of my trips back to Tulsa around when I would need to fill my gas tank. Gas stations in other towns - especially in small Oklahoma towns - tend to be these campy, dirty places that smell of Funyuns, Black & Milds and mop water. Compared to those places, QuikTrip is like The Gas Station on a Hill.

Wanna wax poetic about QT (or not)? Leave it in the comments.

To kick things off, a poem about QT by long-time reader and TDT contributor Chris Bouldin:

QT, how do I love thee?

Oh QT, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways
I love your sausage rolls, your snazzy uniforms
For nothing says "love" like a red shirt on a dark Tulsa day

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Your lighting, sweet tea, rooster booster, your guaranteed gas
If Jesus needed cigarettes at 2am, choose you, he might

Homeless men drawn to you like a desert mirage
They sit on your sidewalks; they worship at your altar
A beacon on a hill, part of my life's collage

I love thee freely, as men strive for right
I love your bathrooms, taquitos, egg rolls and smiles
I love the fact you are open all night

Three percent beer, excellent pay, an accessible corporate climb
Always looking out for me
Like an Asian massage parlor, QT, I will love you long time.

Amen, Bouldin. Amen.


Jeff Shaw said...

That is soooo wrong.

Alright - here goes.

Let us go then you and I,
When the evening is spread out across the sky,
Like so many corn dogs etherized on that weird looking table.

There will be time,
For the red and white sign is forever lighted and shines along the windows through half deserted streets.

And there will be time, time to prepare yourself for the Slurpies and the Apple Fritters.

And in the shop, the women Kum n' Go (oops, wrong store) and talk of packs of Oreo.
And they wonder, "do I dare?"

But I have know them already,
I Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with their coffee machines.

And the water, what kind of water, should it be?
There's too many to presume. Should I pay a dollar, for a bottle?
Or would it be worthwhile to have bitten off the matter with a Perrier?

But would it have been worth it, after all?

Natasha said...

That was beautiful, Jeff.

Someone should write a haiku!

♥georgie♥ said...

Great Job Jeff!

I just wish they would bring back lamar! that is my earliest memory of QT...in a small QT in Muskogee with the lamar cups and posters...

SteveS said...

I love QT. I do alot of traveling and I seldom find any city with 1) as many convenience stores as Tulsa, 2) convenience stores as nice as QT. When in another city I frequently find myself grumbling "where's a Quik Trip when you need one". They're clean, the prices aren't outrageous, they have a good variety, they're friendly, and THEY DON'T WORRY ABOUT PENNIES!

Jeff Shaw said...

Can I do another? PLEEEAAAASE?

As I drove to my weekly Tai Chi,
I stopped at a store called QT
There were goodies galore,
I bought the whole store,
But I only went in there to pee.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I love QT. The hot dogs, taqitos, coffee, chai latte's, cookies, sandwiches, huge drinks, lots of ice. The whole deal.

Poor ole OKC ended up on the wrong side of the handshake to keep out.

Sarah said...

I got your haiku right here:

Fountain Drink at the QT
Soda smorgasbord
Start with crushed ice and some Coke
Cherry syrup, please

Natasha said...

Jeff and Sarah, you are my heroes. I sigh adoringly in your general direction.

BigAssBelle said...

Here are two things I know about QuikTrip:

One: In Ponca City, when I was in high school, the "Quik Trip Guys" were hot commodities. They were invariably handsome, charming, flirty and fun. We all adored them and were deeply envious when one of our class ended up with a date. By my senior year, it was evident that the intent of the Quik Trip Guys was to date all of us, one at a time, quickly. :-) Nevertheless, they were charming. I don't notice that so much anymore, though all are friendly and personable. Do they train that into them?

Two: Despite graduating college with highest honors, despite working successfully in several different fields of endeavor, despite being a reasonably smart cookie, I failed the QuikTrip employment test, which I took moments after moving to Tulsa in 1980. Needing to work while finding an appropriate job ;-) I applied at QT and . . . failed the test.

On, and one more: Because I remember well when Quik-Trip type stores (and even Quik-Trip) didn't have public restrooms, I worship QT for that reason alone. Plenty of paper towels to mop up excess wetness, roomy, good soap. Yay.

Brodrick Family said...

I miss our QT in Miami and plan my gas around my schooling in BA so that I can get gas ( and yes food ) at QT. I am lost over christmas break, spring break and summer!!! I wish we could have ours back!!!

Anonymous said...

QT's Olfactory Delights

Smells of petro,
Then conditioned air preserve
Dolly Madison

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