I was waiting in the left turn lane of a four-lane road for a break in the long line of facing traffic. Destination: a gas station that charged two cents less per gallon than the station two lanes over on my right. My granddaughter looked up from her book and asked, “Why are you turning here, Gramps?”
“To get gas,” I replied.
Pointing out her window, she added, “But there’s a station we could have just pulled into on this side of the street.”
“It’s cheaper at this one.”
As she leaned over to glance at the gas gauge, I had a sudden premonition that she would be framing up a word problem. See, Sarah’s a middle-school math whiz…always has been quick on the draw, numbers wise. “We only need half a tank…what?…ten gallons maybe?”
“Yeah, I want to top-up before we head to the lake.”
“So, you’ll save $.20 by going to this station rather than the one over there.”
“Yeah, you bet. Every little bit counts…” I’m not sure why, but I felt like I had to explain myself. “I’ve been doing that…going to cheaper priced gas stations since I first started driving.”
Sarah nodded. More cars whizzed past. Finally, she asked, “What was the price of gas back then…which would have been, when? In the fifties?”
“Yep, when I was in high school. Gas was around $.25 a gallon. And so, you see,” I announced, triumphantly providing the solution to her math problem before she could lay it out, “if you had a favorite station that sold gas two cents cheaper than the major brands…on a ten-gallon fill-up the twenty-cent savings would get you ten gallons for the cost of nine. One free gallon!”
“Huh! That was cool,” she allowed as we pulled up to a pump.
As I inserted the nozzle and punched the lighted tab that read REGULAR $3.25, she sidled up next to me and leaned on the car. I pointedly looked across the street at the competitor’s sign—$3.27. She needed to hear more. “You could get a Coke and two Baby Ruths with that saved quarter and still get change back.”
Sarah raised her chin, nodded, acknowledging, assessing. “Okaay. Hey, speaking of Cokes, Gramps, could I have a buck for the machine inside?”