The $20 Dollar Project: Half a Tank of Gas

Pump it up, when you don’t really need it

So, Wednesday I did what has been becoming something of a weekly habit; I put 20 bucks in my gas tank.

I used to fill it up every couple of weeks, but it started getting too damn depressing seeing just how much that really is. Thus, it’s become $20 roughly every week. This gets me about half a tank; a little over, actually.

Now, that particular $20 bucks in gas is still sitting in my tank. It’d be kind of crappy to just say, “Uh, yeah $20 bucks gets me a little over half a tank in my car. Entry done. Goodnight Barstow.” As it happens, I know I also put twenty in the week before. So, lets see where $20 Dollars worth of gas gets you in one of the most expensive gas markets in the country around a city known for its Car Culture.

We’ll give it a look after the jump.

So, lets look at what we’re dealing with, first of all. I drive a 2005 Toyota Corolla LE. It’s that grey one with the small pirate flag on the antenna and the Skull and Crossbones in the back window. You know, the one with the license plate frame that says, “Your Band Sucks.” (In this town, that is an accurate statement to the person behind me in traffic far too often.)

Yeah, that one.

Some are surprised that I drive a Corolla. Honestly, a lot of people assume I’d be in a classic car, or maybe even a 70’s muscle car. I’ve been told this a bunch of times. Whatever. I think it probably has to do with the fact I sported a greased up Pompadour for many years. Trust me, if I could afford (including maintenence) a ’57 Cadillac with Rocket Ship Tail Lights and Fang Tooth Front Grill, I would, but I’d still probably drive the Toyota around town most days. Also, that $20 in the tank would do a lot less.

The Toyota rocks in the city.

It’s small enough to park in a tight spot, big enough (four door) to fit a few folks, and while it won’t blow doors on the long drag, it’s quick from light to light. Just what I need.

I was admiring just those qualities in my ’94 Corolla when some New York transplant pulled out in front of me on Sunset one afternoon. The settlement from her insurance company for trashing my car became the down payment for my ’05 Corolla.

Yeah, I like those cars.

Anyway, she ain’t a Prius, but she does alright on the Mileage. When I filled fueled* up last week, I got my gas for $3.15 a gallon. When I filled fueled* up the other day it was $3.23. Awful. Truly awful. (And that’s at the cheap places.)

Now, I didn’t record every single place I went, but really, as boring as it would be to read all of that, writing it all out place to place to place would make me wanna stab someone. And frankly, no one’s handy.

But we’ll hit some highlights, and try and get a general idea where $20 bucks’ll get you around this part of town. That’s the whole point, right?

I remember I noticed the gauge dipping a little too far south of the “E” late Tuesday night/Wednesday morning as I was running around getting last minute stuff for my Halloween Party. (Which was freaking Awesome, by the way.) Last thing I wanted to do was have to worry about it the day of the party, and I sure as hell had too much to do that night to try and fit in “My dumb ass ran out of gas” drama the night before Halloween.

So, there’s our eponymous $20: At the Cheapo 24 hour gas station/car wash on Beverly and La Brea. Got a little over half a tank for the Noxiousmobile, and we’re off.

First I went to Ralph’s supermarket to get a shopping cart full of chips and crap for the party. Some Pumpkins to carve, some apples to bob for (no, really) and so forth. All that last minute crap that I thank the Lord of Heaven or Commerce or illicit-chemicals-that-keep-one-up-all-night or whoever’s responsible for the Blessing that is the 24 Hour Supermarket for.

Load that crap up and back to Casa Del Robs. (My roommate’s name is Rob, as well. Hence, I now live at “Casa Del Robs,” as opposed to my old place: “Chez Noxious.”)

The next day, prior to the party starting, I had to grab some last minute things from the Hardware Store. (It was that kind of Shindig) and pick up my friend Cat. All of this and back to the pad, according to Google Maps, we’ve done about 6 miles.

There was a trip to Los Feliz and back at one point as well. Cat needed to go back at one point to take her kid Trick or Treating. I had my friend run her out there (I normally never let anyone else drive my car, but…) so I’m not sure the route he took, but figure, round trip, another 12 to 14 miles. Give or take.

Then: The Halloween Party Rocked on with its bad self. It was, indeed, happening, which you either know, or wish you knew. That’s how that is. Car stayed put for the rest of the night.

Next day, I went to work. I did that a lot over the next week. Helps with the whole “Rent/Food/Not-living-in-Squalor” thing. Work’s about 1.72 miles away. This is not a constant back and forth; sometimes I’ll stop off and have a tasty meal at Swingers Diner, or a quick shameful bite at Taco Hell, or whatever. I worked Thursday through Sunday night last week though, so at least all of that, plus some side trips to and from.

Friday, I had lunch with my friend, cohort and scene partner at Cafe 101; figure ten mile round trip, plus I screwed around in Hollywood a bit. Okay, fine: I walked around Border’s Books and Bed, Bath and Beyotch. Don’t judge me. I had to keep from going into Amoeba Records somehow; I’ll waste the rent money in that damn place.

Somewhere in there I hit up Target and Trader Joe’s and Smart and Final and probably Ralph’s a couple of times. I’m not shy about the A/C and I get caught in traffic during rush hour a lot, though I’m generally trying to get to work while everyone else is going home.

Tuesday I did this.

Wednesday, the gauge was once again a bit too far south of the “E.” I was already over on Franklin by the 101 (more lunch with my lovely scene partner/cohort) so I threw another twenty in at a cheap place I know on Franklin. My odometer, which I reset when I fueled up the week before, read exactly 100.7 miles. (Okay, I might have driven a block or two first.) Franklin cheapo gas was $3.23, about 4 cents cheaper than Beverly and La Brea cheapo gas that day. Not enough to drive for, but, as I said, I was already over there. I got 6.175 gallons. Did I mention I sit in traffic a lot?

That’s what $20 bucks’ll get you in L.A.

Keep up with the whole $20 Dollar Project World-freakin’-Wide on Dave Markland’s entry HERE.

*edit: Sorry ’bout that. Didn’t mean to imply that two tens will fill a gas tank, even on a Corolla.

19 thoughts on “The $20 Dollar Project: Half a Tank of Gas”

  1. Whatever. Walking two miles at 2 AM after being on my feet all night running back and forth sucks. Trust me, I used to do it.

    I’ll leave my weak sauce on your chin. Save the good stuff for your mom.

  2. Your car’s fuel economy is best optimized with trips longer than 10 miles. Constant short trips takes its toll on your fuel economy, not to mention brings about more wear and tear on your car, especially your brakes and transmission. You can get a bike to take care of those 1.7 miles, but you’re probably going to come up with a litany of lame excuses anyway. So the problem is yours, dude.

  3. Wouldn’t the world be great if everyone tried to save it just the way you do?

    Here’s my lame excuse: I don’t want to get a bike.

    And I don’t have a problem with that.

  4. Here’s my lame excuse: I don’t want to get a bike. And I don’t have a problem with that.

    Gas isn’t expensive enough.

  5. Yeah, I also eat red meat and download porn.

    Look, I know there are a lot of bike advocates that write for this site, and many that read it. That’s great. I find the stories interesting.

    But I’m not a cyclist. Not looking to become one.

    And I am REPULSED by anyone trying to shove their beliefs down my throat: Fundamentalist Christian, Atheist, Vegan, Scientolgist, Cyclist.

    Make whatever Lifestyle choice you like. Try and force it on me, you can suck my balls.

    Not the way to get converts, kid.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to drive to the next door neighbor’s house.

  6. Whatever gets your rocks off, dude. Just don’t whine about the price of gas, admit that you’re too lazy to conserve any of it, and then be offended when you’re called out on it.

  7. It was a lighthearted blog entry about what happens to $20, in this case in gas form.

    You wanted to turn it into a forum for your personal agenda, so don’t get offended when I tell you to shove it.

    And yeah, I am too lazy to climb on a bike after waiting tables all night. How much biking through 2AM drunk drivers on the Sunset Strip do you do?

    Not a fucking lot, I’ll bet.


    Go plant your soap box somewhere else, junior. This was just a tale of $20.

  8. I have in fact biked through “2AM drunk drivers on the Sunset Strip”. It’s a rush!

  9. If I ever do decide to two wheel it, I think I’ll start with something a little more sedate.

    I don’t think I’ve been on a bike since I was ten. That was, I’m sure, before some of our readers were born.

    Not implying, just so we’re clear, that there aren’t cyclists older than me. Just saying I haven’t rode a bike in almost 30 years.

    Seems like it’d be like taking up skiing by starting on the triple diamond.

    But good on yeh for rollin’ it, Mr Rollers. I’m the one sober guy praying you don’t get side swiped.

  10. Amen Rob. Don’t make me do anything, I’ll decide myself thank-you-very-much based on the options available tome.

  11. I personally wouldn’t advise anyone who waits tables or tends bars to do anything BUT take a car home after work, especially that late. Too many nightmare stories of muggers targeting wait staff.

  12. Well Rob that’s half the fun of writing and posting here you never know what will get a response, the most inoffensive fires up some of the trolls. Go figure, but its not like you can get troll food at pets-r-us.

Comments are closed.