YOU CAN’T BUY ONE GALLON OF GAS!
It’s May 17, 2004, 12:10 PM. Last night around 9:00 my wife and I had a
sudden craving for nachos. I know what you’re probably thinking. No 40
-something-year-old and his younger wife (I’m not allowed to discuss her age,
but can say she looks ten years younger than she really is) has any business
eating fast food a couple of hours before they’re about to call it a night,
but this was a SERIOUS craving! Both of us being too lazy to change– my wife
in her robe and slippers and me in my boxers and night shirt– we jumped into
my Range Rover and headed for Chachos, a fast food Mexican restaurant here in
On the way, I started to notice the gas prices at stations we passed. At
one intersection I saw a gas station selling Premium Unleaded for $2.12 9/10,
and across the street it was $2.09 9/10. My first thought was, any motorist
would certainly notice that just across the street the gas was three cents
cheaper! I mean, I can understand someone not wanting to drive all over town
to find cheap gas, but how much trouble is it to cross the street?! That’s
when I noticed something I’ve seen for years but never gave a second thought
to’”the 9/10 of a cent charge! If I were to show up and ask to purchase
exactly one gallon of gas, there would be no way for me to pay for it! Does
anybody out there have 9/10 of a penny I can borrow so I can pay for a gallon
I looked into it and found out that approximately 70 years ago, the oil
companies came up with this little add-on (which is always rounded up). In
1985, the Iowa State Legislature realized the unfairness of this sales gimmick
and forced the oil companies and the guys at the pump to list the prices in
whole cents. I mean, it only makes sense (pun intended)! Then, mysteriously,
in 1989 the 9/10 cent price tag reappeared. The Iowa Legislature said they
had accidentally repealed the 1985 law (snuck in with word changes to a new
amendment) and they would change it back. They never did.
It’s bad enough that we have to take out a home equity loan to pay for a
tank of gas, but at the very least, price the gas in a form of currency that
is possible to use. Before we start trying to save the world, we could start
by being honest with ourselves.
Talk to you next time.
P.S. I’ve gone out and bought some powerful bolt cutters that I can use to
make a 9/10 of a cent. Let me know if any of you need one.