I know–you’ve got a similar horror story–but gimme a freakin’ break, I’m from the era when a fill-up would give back change from a ten!!!–hell, a FIVE!!! Most of you who read this won’t immediately believe this, but I remember buying gas at 22.9 cents per gallon. NOT a misprint. My buddies and I would go out for a night of drinking and the driver would get a dollar apiece for riding around privileges. Five bucks was almost a full tank.
When the first OPEC crisis hit in 1974 –The Yom Kippur War Punishment–and the Arabs shut off the pipeline to all of Israel’s friends (I was driving a ’63 Chrysler 300-J then, which, due to its 440 Hemi motor got 12-14 MPG), the price of a gallon DOUBLED overnight to .80 cents. Some places were getting a BUCK!!!
I lived in little Ft Myers then, and at the same time the gas prices doubled, the guys who drive the fuel trucks went on strike. Since 100% of FT M’s gas got there by truck, I was living in a place that had flat run out of gas–at any price. My son has memories of he and I on 3AM gas runs, where I knew the guy at the station and he would let me get 10 gallons (at a buck per) if I didn’t tell anyone that he just got some gas delivered. In my Chrysler, that meant 150 miles of Drive Time. There was a line two blocks long when I got there. Apparently, someone talked. . .
A gas station North of Cape Coral was getting $1.259 for a gallon. You could buy as much as you wanted at a price twice normal. My friends & I pulled up in several bone-dry cars and HAD to get some gas there one night, and we all felt the humiliating sting of the RIPOFF. We bought the stuff because we were all running on empty and it was the only open station for miles, and we didn’t spare the nasty vitriolic criticism when we paid the grinning, profiteering owner. We literally hated the guy for his soulless rip in a time of great need, and we plotted against him.
About a month later, when everything had returned to normal and gas at that station was maybe 59.9, we fulfilled our plan. One of us (me) went into the store and looked at the beer coolers for awhile. Out in the fueling area, three cars drove up at different times and began fill-ups. Inside, the diversion guy (me) dropped a quart of Bud and had it smash on the terrazzo floor, barfing perfectly good beer all over the place. The attendant, the owner’s son, came to the back of the store with a mop to clean up, visibly unhappy. I stood, theatrically humiliated and apologetic as he sponged up the beer and squeezed it into a bucket.
While he got busy mopping up, out front all 3 cars drove off, each totally filled. Then the attendant went nuts, calling in the cops. I bought a 12-pack, paid for my $5.00 gas and left, apologizing for the spill. Later, we split up the gas, siphoning it around until everyone had at least 3/4 of a tank.
Eventually the price settled down, bouncing between 59.9 and 89.9 for a decade. The one constant in life in America during the ’80s and early ’90s–cheap gas.
It wasn’t until 1998 or ’99 that gas finally broke the buck mark–and stayed there. Throughout the World Trade Center time, gas was continuously flirting with a dollar, bouncing 10 or 20 cents either way. When I bought my 350Z in April of ’03, Premium was $1,39.9. By mid-2003, some places were seeing two per gallon, and the three dollar number only got broached about 18 months ago. Now it’s four. How far can it go???
Last year, Exxon/Mobil made profits (PROFITS) of $40 BILLION bucks. That’s when gas was at 3. What do you think THIS year’s profit might be with everything gone to four??? Simultaneously, General Motors, which builds the things that use the gas, LOST $30 BILLION. How the hell can that be???
Despite a $4.00 tariff, our fuel is remarkably inexpensive compared to Europe’s. In Turkey it’s $11.00 per gallon, in England it’s eight. France and Germany are paying $9-9.50 (I wonder if they have the little “. 9” attached to Europe’s gas prices???). They drive essentially the same cars we do, so their sting is magnified. Japan, where everybody’s cars come from, has $7.00 gallons. Interestingly, Venezuela’s drivers pay 12 cents per gallon, and the Saudi’s pay about a dollar for the same stuff they sell us.
There are some bright signs. The same four dollar gas that I’m griping about is the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. The rapid demise of the humungous SUV is at hand. Those bloated trucks that so populate the driving lanes are about to become extinct, due to their irresponsible, greedy gas mileage and overabundant size. I couldn’t be happier. I hate those monstrosities.
A friend has a Lincoln Navigator. For the three years that he’s had it, I have been needling him about “. . . Someday you’ll come to hate this blimp”, and the day is here. It costs him over a hun to fill-up, and he only gets 13-15 MPG on his best days. It costs him $150 a week to get to work. Tough chit, pal. He’s dying to unload it, but no one wants it as a trade.
We haven’t seen the end of this BS. Gas will ONLY go up, from now unto depletion.
All you young ricers, you 20-somethings, be sure to remember these days, when fuel was four. When you finally grow up and have stories to tell your kids, they won’t BELIEVE four-dollar gas stories. They’ll be like my 22-cent stories.
Excuse me. My 22.9 stories. .
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