Gas prices

We are pretty lucky. We live in an area where we can do a lot of walking. Our house resides in a little community right next to a Target and Safeway shopping center. Unless we are getting something big or doing lots of shopping at once, we almost always walk. It takes five minutes to walk to Target, another two or three to walk to Safeway. Very convenient and encourages a little exercise, too.

My office is five miles from the house and on roads with very little in the way of traffic. In the mornings, during rush hour, it might take 15 minutes to get into the office, and that includes dropping the kids off at school and daycare. Coming home, there is even less traffic. Kelly’s office is downtown, but she catches the metro at my office so her driving commute is the same as mine.

We have to fill up our Kia once every two weeks or so. When the fuel light comes on the car will take 16 gallons and change. Of course, when the price of gas is $4/gallon, that’s still a pretty penny. There is a gas station near our house that we generally fill up at, but after my experience yesterday, we’ll likely be finding another one. The price of gas has been steadily creeping up. When I walked to Home Depot on Saturday and passed the gas station, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.9991. Half an hour later, walking home, the price had gone up to $4.039. Yesterday morning, when I went to put gas in the car, it was up to $4.059.

I always fill up the car, but when I swiped my card yesterday, I saw that the price was $4.159, despite the sign which read $4.059. When I looked into it, I discovered that the $4.059 was the price if you were paying cash. It was an additional ten cents per gallon if you used a credit card. For the first time in more than a decade, I didn’t fill the tank. I made sure there was enough gas to do what we needed to this week, and stopped. I wasn’t going to pay an extra $1.60+ cents just to use my credit card. Kelly says there is another gas station, not as close by still nearby that is both cheaper and doesn’t charge the outrageous extra fee for using a credit card.

I know that gas stations used to charge a different fee for credit. But I haven’t seen that happening in our area until now. I know this because I occupy my time, when filling up the car, by doing the math in my head for how much the fill will be and then comparing my math to the result on the display. Never before have I noticed a difference from my math until yesterday (which is what caught my attention in the first place). Seems like a surefire way of losing customers. I mean, the price of gas is already high enough, and now you are adding additional roadblocks just so that you don’t have to absorb the credit card fees.

Still, like I said, we are pretty lucky when it comes to where we live. Walkability is important. I think we drive our cars less than 5,000 miles/year. When I lived in L.A., I drove 40 miles round trip each weekday just commuting to the office.  I used to have to put gas in my car every 5 days. I couldn’t imagine having to do that today.

  1. My grandpa and his brothers owned a service station in the Bronx for 35 years. I grew up with him telling me that that extra 9/10 of a cent might as well be an extra penny When something is listed as $3.999 it is $4/gallon for all practical purposes. It is for this reason that I list the extra 9 with the price of a gallon of gasoline.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

One reply on “Gas prices”

  1. I always fill up the car, but when I swiped my card yesterday, I saw that the price was $4.159, despite the sign which read $4.059. When I looked into it, I discovered that the $4.059 was the price if you were paying cash.

    I hate that. I don’t carry much cash.

    AS far as the 3.999 versus the 4.000, its a psychological thing. People focus on the most significant digits, subconsciously sometimes.

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