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Paying for gas can cause a jolt

By Staff
Leada Gore, Editor
If you've bought gasoline lately, you know the accompanying sticker shock is akin to that when auto dealers explain why you need $500 worth of undercarriage coating on your new car. I have a small car, one that luckily gets good gas mileage. Still, I put more than $50 worth of petroleum in my car last week and Greg's truck added much more to the total.
Gasoline and driving has moved up on the list of family expenditures, above those other pesky things such as food and house payments.
It was during one of these heart-stopping fill up moments last week when I overheard a man ask for $5 worth of gas.
"Must not be planning on going too far," the clerk said with a smile.
"Just the next gas station," he replied.
I've never worried too much about gas costs or gas mileage in the past. I was content to hop in the car and turn on the air conditioner full blast, even if it meant a few extra dollars here and there. Greg, however, is a well-documented gas miser, who actually knows his exact gas mileage at any given time and takes pride when it exceeds the factory predictions.
"Got 31 miles per gallon on that trip," he would say proudly.
Unless I was in the car, he would often forego his air conditioner in favor of rolling down the windows. The windblown look was OK with him, it seemed, as long as he maintained that precious gas mileage.
Recently, Greg traded in his car for a pickup truck. The rest of the world was getting rid of their gas-guzzling SUVs; we were opting for something that got worse gas mileage. Suddenly, I noticed Greg quit bragging so much about his fabulous gas management.
"So what's your gas mileage like?" I asked him after he'd driven the truck for about a week.
"It's OK," he'd say, quickly changing the subject. I noticed he was taking some small steps to improve its performance, however. He determined that driving around with the tailgate lowered reduced wind resistance and therefore saved money. I don't know if he saw any real difference, but he did have a bunch of people stop to tell him his tailgate was down, so I guess it does increase human goodwill.
And, he still drove around with the windows down and air conditioner off, even when last week's temperatures reached the upper 90s. That is, until I got in the truck. "You've got to turn on the air," I said. "It's 100 degrees outside." "I know, I know," Greg replied. "I was hoping you wouldn't notice."
He was wrong. It may cost us an arm and a leg, but as long I'm along for the ride, that arm and leg are going to be cool.