Tuesday, April 24, 2007


When I was a boy of about six, my father would give me the assignment of running a couple of blocks to the gas station in our small town to purchase a gallon of fuel for the lawn mower. I would make the trip carrying a red metal gas can and a small handful of change my dad gave me.

At the time, I didn’t think much about the price of a gallon of gas, which was about 30 cents. That’s just the way it was. If you had told me or the gas station attendant that someday the price of gas would be more than ten times that amount, we’d have probably sized you up for a straitjacket. That thought just didn’t fit our paradigm.

Take this old Texaco gas pump for instance. It sits in the town of Dwight, Illinois, at an old service station along old Route 66. The station dates to the early 1930s. The pump was manufactured with only two whole numbers to display the price per gallon. In fact, the price is labeled as “cents per gallon.” Their paradigm didn’t include oil cartels and rapidly fluctuating prices (or at least if it did, they weren't letting us in on it).

We all thought the end of the world was near when the price of gas passed the one dollar mark in the mid-70s, and again when it hit two dollars in the mid-80s. But paradigms are made to be broken.

Four years ago, we hosted a German exchange student in our home. On the way home from the airport, Martina, seeing signs that advertised petrol at about $2.20, remarked that our gasoline was much more expensive than in Germany, where it sold for about $1.30. We later found out that European gas stations advertise a per liter price as opposed to our per gallon price, which made German gas price out at about $5 per gallon.

Makes it all not seem so bad.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.


Hillary said...

This nearly makes me cry!

Our gas here in Vancouver is $1.20 a litre right now. With converting to to US$ per gallon, that's $4.04 per gallon. Booo!

But I LOVE the photo! :)

James said...

Hi, Hillary!
It's only a matter of time before we reach the level you're paying now, but I suppose that's little comfort knowing you'll be even further stretched, price-wise, by then.

Miss Trashahassee said...

Yes, we do have it better here all right! I'm glad I have to drive less than a mile to work each day.

Miss T