Do you play the gasoline game?

January 9, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

On Wednesday evening, my wife and I were en route to Chicopee. Our car told us we were low on fuel and so we decided to play our favorite game: “Which Gas Station is Cheapest!”

In my head, Don Pardo is saying the title.

It’s as close as Mary and I come to gambling regularly. We spin the wheel and hope it comes up with the lowest price.

Here is how the game is played: keep driving past gas stations hoping to find the cheapest before you run out of petrol.

We first start with the two stations that are closest to our home in the Six Corners neighborhood of Springfield. Generally, because they serve an urban poor market, they are more expensive — at least that’s the way I link their prices to their location.

The price is $3.26 — I’m rounding up the .09 cents — and we note it was $3.20 the previous day.

So then we go down St. James Avenue and look at the Racing Mart and the Irving stations. They are also at $3.26.

@#$%! The air inside our car is blue.

We pass two more stations both at $3.20. Should we stop? No, I’m feeling lucky and have enough fumes in the tank to make it to Chicopee and across the formerly singing bridge.

We’ve noticed that Chicopee’s gas prices always seem to be lower than Springfield’s or any other neighboring community’s. Why is that? Do we enter into a time warp or parallel dimension?

I don’t know, but to my shock the Pride station at the bottom of Grattan Street is $3.30! $3 and 30 freakin’ cents!

OK I can make our loss up. I’ll go the F.L. Roberts station nearby and use points off my card. Dang it, they are also at $3.30 and #$%@! I have no points left on my customer card.

As I’m pumping I realize I could a used a sacred Big Y coin to lower the cost per gallon.

$#@!&

I get enough gas to assure we will make it home and head toward our destination.

I bought $20 of gas — about 6.6 gallons. Now if I had stopped earlier at a $3.20 station I would have saved a dime on each gallon or 66 cents.

Was the angst worth less than a dollar?

I doubt my wife and I are the only ones who play this game, especially when it comes to filling up your tank. I seldom fill it to capacity as I try to judge how much gas I use versus how much money I have to spend.

Welcome to the lower middle class.

I will never stop being amazed that people aren’t furious about gas prices. At my age, I remember when putting $5 in the tank would last a long time.

Yes, I’m old.

I listen to the various folks running for president and I’ve not heard much talk about the price of energy from them. Yeah, maybe people had enough of “Drill baby, drill!” from the last election.

Here’s a question to the pols out there: would it be better to try to curb the speculation on oil that directly affects our economy or continue on our present course?

Would it be better to aggressively seek ways to better use American petrol than what we are doing now?

Every extra dollar that I have to put in my tank I cannot save or spend — spend on consumer products that could strengthen American jobs.

Sure, this issue isn’t as sexy as gun control or abortion or “American Exceptionalism,” but a comprehensive energy plan is one that could unite most Americans.

Of course, I doubt that many of the people running for President actually stand there staring at the pump wondering how much gas they really need to buy this week. They have people for that.

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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