When it was announced that Circle K would buy Holiday gas stations, a few people sighed with mild regret. Holiday’s been around here for a long time, and people have a lot invested in the brand. Gosh, we’ll miss those SuperMom cookies.

No, wait, that’s the other chain. Well, they’re both red and blue. The real distinction: One of the chains has free air. The other charges for air and gives the money to charity, and when you decline to pay you feel like you’re slapping a bowl of gruel out of someone’s hands.

But really, a dollar for air? It’s like asking for a quarter deposit on the squeegee sitting in the bucket of filthy windshield fluid. Once they start charging that, people are going to use the squeegee to clean their entire vehicle.

The other day I needed to buck up a sad tire, so I drove to the place that has free air. Of course there was a car blocking the hose. The owner eventually emerged from the store, stared at his keys for half an hour, got in the car, then apparently took out his owner’s manual to acquaint himself with safety procedures for backing up. He sat there for 47 minutes.

OK, maybe it was more like a minute. But it wouldn’t have happened at the place that charges for air. No one ever blocks that hose because no one wants to fish around for quarters just to get air.

So here’s a conversation most of us would have with any gas station chain coming into the market.

“Hello, we’re your new Fueling Partner! We proudly offer EarthPure™ gasoline, blended with the purified sweat of wolves for extra power and fewer emissions! Our state-of-the-art pumps have 4K video screens that show your favorite sports and news while you stare blankly, captive to the omnipresent images.”

Great. Do you have free air?

“And don’t miss our special fair trade coffee — you give us money, we give you coffee. Sounds like a fair trade. And it’s a great way to start the day.”

Fantastic. Free air?

“Don’t forget our Gas&Go lane, where Rewards Club Members can have their jerky delivered to their car while they fuel.”

Sounds wonderful, but do we have to pay for air?

“Our air is compressed to the standards of today’s modern tires, and offers a dynamic inflation experience for mere quarters per psi. All proceeds go to ... ”

OK, see you later. Call me when your business model doesn’t involve monetizing the atmosphere.