Friday, September 17, 2010
The fourth Wangle column - click here for the original story.
I worked with an editor in Melbourne for about five years, who apart from wearing socks and sandles had a rather infuriating habit.
Every Wednesday night he’d drive around the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges to find the cheapest petrol, then buy as much as he could while the going was good. I’m talking jerry cans, the works.
Good on him for wanting to save a few dollars to fill up, but what price all the driving around and wear-and-tear on his car?
Let’s not even start about the carbon footprint he was leaving as he stomped around the suburbs in search of that elusive two cent saving.
I’d forgotten about this behaviour until just last week when I pulled into the servo with a flat back tyre and a petrol tank drier than a dead dingo’s proverbial.
I’d left my run to the last gasp and was urging the hail-pocked Mazda onwards to the finish line. If I was a jockey, I’d be using the whip.
But the finish line was blocked. My run had been thwarted by a line of at least 15 cars queuing for petrol.
What in hell’s name was going on here? Were petrol prices about to soar?
As the Mazda farted its empty discontent, it suddenly dawned on me… it was a Wednesday, the cheapest day in the fuel price cycle. These people were lining up as they would do every Wednesday to save themselves a few bob at the bowser.
And indeed it’s true. If you check out the FuelWatch price trend graph, the chart looks like the heart rate of an AFL player who’s been eating the No Doz like Tic Tacs.
But is it worth waiting in line for 30 minutes chewing through the gas to get one over the oil companies? And why does it seem that everyone waits until after 5.00pm to join the line?
Surely the pensioners would be better off buying their petrol during work hours when there’s less traffic and less demand?
When I finally limped up to the bowser, I understood that this was a special club and these people had made the whole tight-arse petrol Wednesday trip into something of a ritual.
People were wandering from car to car for a chat, sharing a joke over a coolant top-up and generally behaving like they were in the crowd at an Andre Riue concert.
One middle aged gent thought a quick buttock grope was in order, while he gathered his betrothed in a ULP embrace. Betrothed? No, not on your nelly. The lucky gropee scampered off shortly after to attend to the diesel pump hanging out of her Patrol.
What was this madness? Had I been consumed by fumes?
Some 40 minutes after first joining that conga-line of price conscious, socially gregarious fuel fanatics, it was time to hit the road.
I looked over to the designated air and water area in hope that I might get a clear run to fill my flaccid Goodyear, but my hopes were cruelly dashed.
From what I could see and hear a bloke called Ted was running a workshop on tyre pressures and the best time of day to achieve the most satisfactory result. I do believe he was even running a tea and coffee service out of his boot.
The point of this rant? The source of my anger? To be honest, I no longer recall.
I’m too busy planning my run for Wednesday arvo and hoping that Ted has some feedback on the best type of lubricant to ease my creaking ball joints.