Tuesday, February 05, 2008

McClure-less at the Pump

In their previous life Exxon was Esso which had been Standard Oil many years before that. We've pulled up to the pump at McClure's Esso station outside of Tryon, North Carolina. The posted price of Esso (regular) is 19.9 cents and Esso Extra (premium) is 23.3 cents per gallon. A second sign says " No Gas Today " and it will say the same tomorrow.

McClure's is a well preserved example of the classic country filling stations which were posted less than a tank of gas between each other along the nations highways. This is how gas was priced and the stations looked a little more than 45 years ago. In those days one never pumped their own gas.

Had McClure's been in business when we rolled up there would have been a man checking the oil, one wiping the windshield, another checking the air pressure in the tires in the time it took yet another to fill up the tank. Being that we were in the mountains, all readings would be carefully made and conditions reported to the driver. Any failure on their part to be courteous and efficient might well get back to Mr. McClure or perhaps the widow McClure as these were almost always family businesses. There was accountability up and down the line.

We would be using Esso Extra in this car so that filling the tank from nearly empty would have come to $3.24 with a little running down the fender. When we took on that same volume of fuel just down the road, the tab was $41.17 with our taking great care not to spill on drop. That was at a convenience store at which the cashier would have little noticed if the car had caught fire as long as we'd paid in advance. They couldn't give you directions to anywhere from there, but would sell you a map for around five bucks. If you needed help with car trouble, you'd get a shrug at no extra charge. If you were offended by any of this, just try to get the name and address of a managing person to write. If it gets written, imagine the horse laughter your letter will receive as it gets tossed into the can by low level corporate indoor help.

Exxon, now Exxon-Mobil, again reported record earnings for the previous quarter last week. It was stunning news in a tanking economy. For the year they hauled in $77,213 per MINUTE. During the short time it took to fill up the Mustang's tank, Exxon-Mobil gobbled down $111,959.

Loathing the high gasoline prices as much if not more than most, we still find it a bargain in our way of thinking. The dollar to BTU ratio is highway robbery, but the intangible value of finding our way to places of character, mystery and beauty is something on which we cannot place a price. Exxon Mobil, however, can and does. Happy Motoring !


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