$5 Don’t Get You Far These Days

Of all of the reminders that the price of gas is crazy fucking expensive, none have hit me harder than this one. Today I went to get gas and whoever used the pump before me bought $5 worth of gas…


… and got 1.077 gallons for their troubles. That just ain’t right.

Who among us hasn’t put $5 in the tank to keep it on the road until payday, or given a friend $5 for gas after driving you to the airport? If I offered a friend that much for gas today they’d ask me if I was joking or if I lost my job because that much gas won’t even get you across town and back. Plus, the knowledge that $5 could maybe get me to work and back hurt more than the fact that I paid ten times that amount to fill my tank.

These are sad days.

26 thoughts on “$5 Don’t Get You Far These Days”

  1. I remember in college (late 80s) when we would dig around for loose change or the random dollar bill or two. That would get us a couple of gallons and we’d be good to go for a while.

  2. You nailed it. Waaaay back in the day for me a fiver was the price point that kept enough gas in the tank to get me where I needed to go — which usually included hours of wasteful cruising of Westwood, beach trips, to and from friends/school/work — until I could scrounge up another one to continue the journey.

    Now $5 wouldn’t get me a roundtrip to the Santa Monica Pier. I’d be on empty about halfway back. Sad days.

  3. Interesting heatseeker. I wonder if that price in Norway is by design. Part of an effort to price people out of driving, forcing them to use alternatives. After all, Norway happens to be the third largest exporter of oil outside of Russia and Saudi Arabia so it would stand to reason that they would pay less for fuel then we do but I’m no economics expert. I’m sure someone here can tell me why I’m wrong.

  4. From friends and contacts in the EU/UK gas works out to 10/11 gallon now.
    Last year it was about 7.50/gal when you worked out the various exchanges. (I wish I had handy the shell sign in Paris last year showing just under 2 euro’s/litre).

    Their gas has always been much higher as they have a very high VAT tax that goes to fund their govt and social programs.

  5. Well, hey, if I had government-provided basic health care, I could afford to pay $11.00/gal for gas.

    Will, how much was the minimum wage “waaaay back in the day”?

    I mean, I remember when I was a teenager, gas was 67 cents a gallon – but back then, I was working at a suck-ass fast-food job that paid 90 cents an hour.

    As a fraction of the hourly minimum wage, gas is cheaper now than it was back then, even with the current price run-up.

    Everyone waxes nostalgic about prices “back in the day”, but I rarely see anyone longing for the paychecks of yesteryear.

  6. -lamapnerd

    This post is not just nostalgia for the days of cheap gas and some Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner sense of the open road (yes that’s part of it but not all of it.) I see what you’re saying but think about this:

    When gas was 67 cents and you made 90 cents an hour that gallon of gas represented close to 75% of an hour’s work.

    In June 2002 gas was less than $2 a gallon, a $1.60 in some places, and at that price with the minimum wage at $5.15 that callon of gas cost 31% of an hour of work.

    I’m not talking about yesteryear, things were better in this decade.

  7. I was just talking about this with my mom. Back in the day wasn’t that long ago for me. When I first got my license (8 years ago, mind you), my mom would always send me to get gas after using the car to get to work and back. I could usually get away with putting in $5 and be fine. Even when I got my own car 5 years ago, it would cost $20 to fill it up. Last weekend, it cost me $49 to fill that same car.

  8. I’m not talking about yesteryear, things were better in this decade.

    For reals. There was a short bit on KPCC recently pointing out that metro LA had gas as cheap as $2.00/gallon as recently as New Year’s Day, 2001.

  9. I have a distinct memory of my new husband and I taking a small coffee cup which contained all the money we had in the world (mostly nickels and pennies) to the gas station in 1995 and being rewarded with over half a tank of gas.

    Part of the reason we moved, honestly, was because his commute was killing us financially.

  10. I’m not talking about yesteryear, things were better in this decade.

    See, you kids have no idea how easy you’ve got it. :-)

    Why, when I was a kid, I had to walk to school ten miles in the snow, uphill both ways.

    But, seriously, I was responding to Will’s comment, and I suspect that when he said “waaay back in the day”, he didn’t mean 2002. :-)

  11. Lamapnerd – The post does invokes a feeling of nostalgia for the days when you or your friends first got cars and would pool money for gas but I never actually say anything close to “Way back in the day” because it means different things to different people.

    For me it’s 1989 on Long Island and I’m riding in the back of a rusted out Chevy Nova on my way to Jones Beach Theater to see a concert. My $5 contribution was more than enough to get us to the beach and back three times even in that early 70’s beast of a car.

    To many people reading this, those days were last year. The point I was making is that $5 has been the standard starting point for gas money for a very long time, but now that won’t get you anywhere.

  12. Spencer you are correct, I have received a few dozen copies of an email showing that Southwest Air that overshot the runway stopping next to a Chevron station in March 2000. The gas price 1.59/gal.

  13. I remember several times back in the mid 90’s when gas would get down to about .97 to .99 cents per gallon. And usually was no more then about $1.25.

  14. Sounds logical to me 8Track, and I’m no economics expert either. That will never happen here though, could it?

  15. BTW, anyone want free taco’s, Jack N’The Box is having a giveawy, just bring in you gas station reciept. I’ll problably run out gas trying
    to find the nearest one.

  16. It takes me about five seconds to put $10 in my G-35. I’m trading it in for a microphone, like Elwood Blues did the Blues Mobile.

  17. Heatseeker – It could and I’m not saying it would be the worst thing that could happen. If it were practical for me to do so I’d give my car up tomorrow but if I could no longer afford to drive it I’d give it up today.

    Clearly it is in our best interest to reduce the number of cars on the road and high prices may accomplish that.

    I’m not saying I’ll enjoy having to make a lifestyle change but I recognize that I will have to and I’m willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

    Also, a microphone is a good investment.

  18. I was watching this movie called “Strange Days” last week, it was made back in 1999, and the story was about what will happen when the yr20000
    arrives in L.A., and one guy was complaining about everything on a radio call in show, and he say’s “Gas is $2 a gallon, what’s so good about the year 2000?” I just thought that was funny, good movie, check it out, when you get a shot.

  19. Sorry for the delay responding lamapnerd. My reference to “cruising Westwood” is a pretty good indicator I was talking somewhere in the nabe of 20 years prior to 2002. Back then I think minimum wage was about $3/hour, and give or take, gas was flirting with triple digits for the first time.

  20. I know one thing, the Metrolink is much more crowded than usual, I have to stand sometimes. I may need that Microphone, to make some extra bucks, now if I can only learn to hold a note.

  21. What’s also surprising to me was the report on CNBC this morning, that the U.S. get’s 42% of it’s oil form the Gulf of Mexico, the rest from Canada, and then the Middle East, I don’t know how accurate that report
    is, but it’s shocking. Canada?

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