Find gas under $3 and feel like a million bucks


At the Shell station where I sometimes buy gas, a gallon of regular unleaded was going for $2.98 the other day, and it felt like a bargain.

Two-ninety-eight?! I was giddy.

Down the road, they were charging $3.05 and $3.07 and other prices you usually couldn't get without holding a knife to someone's throat.

So seeing $2.98, it was all I could do not to break out the champagne and confetti right there at pump 4.

FOR THE RECORD - The name of the spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic was misspelled in Kevin Cowherd's column in Thursday's Today section. The correct spelling is Ragina Averella.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Oh, yes, I wanted to crank up a Van Morrison CD and wave over the guy at pump 2 and the woman at pump 3 with the crazy hair and start the party, because $2.98 was probably the best we were going to do for the rest of our lives.

Naturally, even in the midst of pumping, we kept waiting for some killjoy from the gas station to grab a stepladder, walk over to the signboard and announce another price hike.

If you want to know who gets more exercise than anyone else in the country, that's easy.

It's these poor gas station workers who have to climb up on the signboards every five minutes with price changes.

Oh, you can talk about how hard your Pilates workout is or your morning run or free weights regimen at the gym or what have you.

But these guys who climb up and down the signboards, they must be in terrific shape.

Just taking down the old magnetic numbers and putting up new ones all the time - $2.79, $2.93, $3.05 - boy, that must really build up your fingers. Or your arms, if you use those long poles.

I bet these gas station workers have the best combined finger-and-arm strength of anyone, and that includes blacksmiths, if they're even around anymore.

Even as this lovefest at the Shell station took place, we kept hearing from so-called experts in the media that gas prices are only going to get worse, so Americans need to start driving less.

On the face of it, this is an absolutely astounding pronouncement. For one thing, it implies that Americans are driving around and burning a lot of fuel just for kicks.

Now, you can argue that more of us should carpool or use mass transit or buy fuel-efficient cars or even live closer to our jobs. But most people who drive do so because they have to.

They have to get to work. They have to get to school. They have to pick up their kids and drive the little brats to Little League games, lacrosse practice, guitar lessons and whatever else will help them get into a top college and make lots of money while Mom and Dad go broke and kiss off any hopes of retirement.

When I repeated the notion of "driving less" to Regina Averella, the spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, she chuckled.

"I think that the higher gas prices go, we may see more and more people change their driving habits," she said. "However, I think that in today's society, driving is a necessity."

Oh, you betcha.

Who drives just for "fun" these days? When I was a kid, people used to go out for Sunday drives to relax or because they were bored.

You sure don't see too many people do that anymore.

For one thing, a Sunday drive will cost you a fortune in gas now.

And there are so many cars on the road - even on Sundays - that you're more likely to develop a towering case of road rage and throw a brick at someone's windshield than do any relaxing.

Averella told an amusing story about Sunday drives, and it didn't involve throwing a brick at a windshield.

She said the only people she knows who still go out for Sunday drives are her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law's husband, who live in White Hall.

And here's the beautiful part: They both drive a Chevy Tahoe!

A Sunday drive in a Chevy Tahoe, that has to set you back a hundred bucks, doesn't it?

What does a Tahoe get these days: two miles to the gallon?

That's like taking a Sunday drive in the Queen Elizabeth.

Anyway, I don't take Sunday drives just for something to do, which is probably sad.

But let me tell you something that is even sadder than that.

What's even sadder is that I'm actually basking in the glow of a $2.98-a-gallon fill-up, which may be the modern definition of insanity.

So who needs help more than I do?

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