So, you think gas was high a few years ago.
|Note: This story was written before gas went up to $2.50 a gallon.
The Price of Gas
Thank goodness we are out of Pennsylvania; the price of gasoline is killing us BMW lovers. We escape over the bridge to the New Jersey Turnpike looking for cheap gas.
“Hey, gas is $1.86. That’s a good sign.” I say to my sweetie as we pass the first rest stop.
“Actually, it’s $1.86 point 9.” She reminds me.
“Point 9? Where’d they get that, anyway? Gasoline is the only product in the whole world priced in fractions of a penny. A fraction of a penny! Yeegads, kids throw pennies away these days. This has to be an oil companies’ worldwide conspiracy. What if I want only one gallon? Then, what do they do? I know what they do – I pay them $1.86 and that’s it. Let’s go buy one gallon of gasoline.”
Sweet stuff smiles back at me. She is thinking that it’s too bad I don’t get paid as well as Andy Rooney for my rant. But, I am serious. It makes perfect sense to me. “That won’t work – they always round up their price.” She says.
“I am not going to pay more than the advertised price and I cannot give them 9/10 of a cent. I am buying one gallon and the fraction of a penny is on them.”
We exit at Rahway to try out my new campaign. Sweet pea has that “Oh no, here we go again” look on her face. Rahway – that’s a funky name. Rahway’s centerpiece is a big round prison. How many towns can say that?
After a stretch of red lights, I take a right turn and pull into the first gas station. Something tells me these guys are Pakistanis. We can get a good deal here. They love to bargain.
“Meester, you have very nice car.” The attendant greets me. He is Pakistani.
“Yes, yes, I want exactly one gallon of gas, please.” Embarrassed, my sweetie slides down in her seat trying to be inconspicuous.
Ignoring my request, the attendant keeps talking with a concerned look on his face, “You take ‘beeg’ chances coming in here through that ‘grin’ light.”
“Grin?” He means green.
He continues, “Cars ‘comeeng’ this way all run the red light. Lots of cars. Seven or eight cars run the red light. You like NASCAR? ‘Eet’s’ like NASCAR, only the red light is a green flag restart. Capeesh? The light turns red and they put the pedal to the metal. Go, Go, Go. You read me? Cars are all over the place. Moosh – they ‘heet’ your BMW. ‘Eet’s’ not pretty.”
“Heet? Yeah, ok, I want some gas. I want one gallon. I see your price is $1.83 point 9. I don’t have 9/10 of a cent. I’ll pay you $1.83 for one gallon. Capeesh?”
The attendants look at each other, puzzled. They don’t seem to understand.
After what seems like a long delay, the attendant says, “Sorry, don’t speak English.”
This is going to be more work than it is worth. I put the car in gear and head out. Sweet One breathes a sigh of relief. She thinks this is done. I came. I tried. I failed. Wrong. We head back for the turnpike and make a run up toward Fort Lee, a Japanese stronghold these days. They will understand.
I exit the turnpike and head up the hill past a string of stations. Sweetie says, “Fort Lee? Oh no, my boyfriend got busted here in ’83.”
Fort Lee’s glitziest off-brand station turns out to be Korean – you can tell ‘cause every letter on the marquee has a square somewhere in it. Don’t ever confuse Korean for Japanese. Koreans are taking over the gas stations now, just like they did the corner stores in NYC. They are good businessmen – we can deal. Their price is $1.85 point 9.
“So, you think you can get a deal here?” My companion sinks further down in the seat. I nod.
This time I get to the point with the attendant. “I want one gallon – no more, no less. I will pay you $1.85.”
In a Yiddish sort of way the guy responds, “For you, we have a package deal. No problem. You want one gallon? You pay $18.59 up front. Take one gallon at a time up to 10 gallons, then pony up again.”
I’m chewing on it. These guys are too sharp for me. No wonder they are taking over. “No thanks,” I blurt out and head back for the turnpike. Sweetie pops in a “Talking Heads” CD and turns the volume way up.
Jersey City up ahead. A light bulb goes off. Jersey City, that’s the ticket…Frankie boy’s hometown. Real people. This time, it’s going to work. We see a station up ahead, a gas station with turrets in a touch-of-old-Europe neighborhood. Geez, the attendants look like Cossacks. The Russians have landed.
I hear an attendant talking with the customer across from me. “You fill up. You fill up now.” He comes over to me and says, “Vhat chu vant? Fill up dis BMW premium, huh? Hurry up!”
Politely, I say, “Sir, I see gas is 1.89 point 9 (the price has gone up again). I was thinking about one gallon of gas for $1.89. If that’s a problem, I can pay you 1.90 for one gallon.”
“Vhat the fug you think this is? Hey, Ivan. Hey, Yuri. Ve got a troublemaker here.”
Ivan and Yuri walk purposely toward my car. The attendant hovers over me grinning. His smile is long-in-the-tooth. His breath? Let’s put it this way – he hasn’t taken time to brush since arriving from the old country. Ivan and Yuri stand over my sweetie looking down her shirt. They are fingering something under their Cossack getups. Oh, for chrissake, they got uzzies. They will blow us away in a heartbeat. The prison at Rahway won’t even be able to handle these guys.
Looking at my watch, I say “Sorry, we have to leave right now.” I’m trying to smile as my hand fumbles with the shifter. I put it in gear and respectfully drive away. Sweetie bends down as if looking under the seat; she wants to be out of the line of fire.
I head back for the turnpike in a hurry, headed for Pennsylvania. My sweetie, exhausted by all my shenanigans, slumps in the seat on her way to dreamland. Me? I can’t wait to buy gas at $1.99 point 9 or $2.09 point 9 or whatever they want in good old PA. I don’t care if they round up the price. I don’t care what they charge me. The “low-on-gas” light starts blinking at me.
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