person speaking in car with caption 'they like come over to me and say you know that's diesel right' (l) person pumping gas into blue car (c) person speaking in car with caption 'they're just trying to help because that is so blank condescending' (r)

Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock @arianatomlinson2323/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘Do you think I’m stupid?’: Woman whose Volkswagen runs on diesel says people always try to correct her at the fuel pump

'It never happens when my [boyfriend] is filling my car up.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on May 5, 2023   Updated on May 14, 2023, 7:51 am CDT

While diesel cars may have popularity abroad, in the United States, they’re a relatively rare sight.

According to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, only about 4% of vehicles in the U.S. run on diesel.

No matter how rare they are on roads, most gas stations have options for refueling these with diesel fuel, generally via a pump that is marked with the color green. This distinction is important, as accidentally putting non-diesel fuel in a diesel vehicle (and vice versa) can be catastrophic for the car’s engine.

Given this danger, some may think they need to remind people waiting for diesel fuel what line they’re in, just to be sure they understand the difference. Now, TikTok user Ariana Tomlinson (@arianatomlinson2323) has gone viral after sharing a simple message: you don’t.

In a clip with over 1.6 million views as of Friday, Tomlinson shows her car, a blue Volkswagen Beetle, waiting in line to be refueled.

“Every single time I’ve been at one of these single pumps, they, like, come over to me and say, ‘You know that’s diesel, right?” she recalls. “I don’t want to hear anybody say ‘they’re just trying to help,’ because that is so fucking condescending.”


one time a guy literally turned it off while i was pumping it was infuriating

♬ original sound – arianatomlinson23

“Do you think I’m stupid and that I can’t read?” she asks. “I can read.”

“One time a guy literally turned it off while I was pumping,” she adds in the caption. “It was infuriating.”

Immediately, several users questioned whether the actions of these strangers were motivated by sexism.

“Is this a sexism thing?” one user asked. “I have a diesel VW and no one has ever talked to me like that.”

“Notice how they only approach women about putting diesel in their diesel cars,” another claimed.

According to Tomlinson, this very well may be the case.

“It never happens when my [boyfriend] is filling my car up,” she wrote in a comment. “That’s why it’s so infuriating.”

A few users offered potential solutions to this issue.

“Get a window decal [that says] ‘my beetle takes diesel,’” a user suggested.

“Get business cards that say ‘I know’ in big text and in smaller text ‘my 201X beetle runs on diesel’ and just stand there [smiling],” a second stated.

“If you are waiting with the engine running, you can answer: you can hear right?” explained a third. “If they are so smart, they should know by the sound, it’s a diesel.”

We’ve reached out to Tomlinson via TikTok direct message.

Update 7:50am CT, May 14, 2023: In a TikTok direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Ariana noted that she’s developed several stock responses to have ready when people question her about her diesel vehicle.

“If they’re not being too condescending, I usually just say ‘it runs on diesel’ and they leave me alone,” she explained. “But a couple of times I’ve had people talk to me like a toddler, so I did the same back — ‘You’re right! I AM at the diesel pump! Good observation.”

She continued that sexism may be at play in the reactions she receives.

“I definitely have more people come up to me when I’m dressed more ‘girly’ than when I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, which really confirms it for me. They associate being feminine with being stupid, which is beyond offensive,” she stated. “The other thing is, nobody has ever said anything to my boyfriend when he’s the one pumping the diesel. The comments on that TikTok prove it as well — there are over 1000 comments saying ‘well you’re a woman, so obviously they think you’re dumb.'”

“It’s so obnoxious,” she added. “I can’t believe people still think like that in 2023.”

To conclude, she emphasized, “how unhelpful it is to assume a random person you have never met is that stupid.”

“Also, it says ‘TDI’ on the back of my car, which is a very popular line of vehicles that all run on diesel,” she wrote. “If they’re truly as smart as they think when it comes to cars, they should definitely know that.”

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*First Published: May 5, 2023, 7:57 am CDT