Gas Prices Stir Plenty of Talk at the Pumps As gas prices hit $4 a gallon in many cities across America, they're the chief topic of conversation at most gas stations. A popular question: "How much did it cost YOU to fill 'er up?"
NPR logo

Gas Prices Stir Plenty of Talk at the Pumps

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Gas Prices Stir Plenty of Talk at the Pumps

Gas Prices Stir Plenty of Talk at the Pumps

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


And even if you don't fly this summer, it's hard to avoid driving, and that means paying for gasoline. Today, regular unleaded hit another record high: an average of $3.95 a gallon.

And that means more scenes like what NPR's Tovia Smith found at a gas station near Boston.

TOVIA SMITH: Forget about what gas prices were six months or a year ago; drivers are over that. Now there are prices you see at the pump that shoot up before you can even make a U-turn.

Mr. RAFAEL MARTINEZ(ph): This morning this one was $3.89, and now it's $3.95.

SMITH: They went up six cents...

Mr. MARTINEZ: Yup, this morning

SMITH: the last - since lunch?

Mr. MARTINEZ: Yup. It's absolutely ridiculous.

SMITH: You can't blame Rafael Martinez for trying to shop around. He drives the mother of all gas-guzzlers - a Chevy Suburban.

Mr. MARTINEZ: I don't have the money to pay more $150 to fill this one up. I just made $140 working today.

SMITH: You made 140.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Yeah, and I have to pay 150 to fill it up.

SMITH: So you just stop at...

Mr. MARTINEZ: Yeah, just $45, just to put some...

SMITH: For those drivers who do go for the full tank...

Mr. CRAIG BRUSKY(ph): It's a horror show. I'm afraid to look every time I fill up.

SMITH: Craig Brusky used to pay about 30 bucks to fill his 2003 Mitsubishi Galant.

I'm watching it now. It's a 22...

Mr. BRUSKY: ...23, 24...

SMITH: By the time the numbers stopped whizzing around...

Mr. BRUSKY: It's $48. It's horrible. It's horrible.

Ms. JO McKEE(ph): My name is Jo McKee and I work for the United States Postal Service.

SMITH: So we're watching it fill up - 40, $41.

Ms. McKEE: I - this is the most I've even seen it, this little tiny truck.

SMITH: Well, it's not stopped yet.

Ms. McKEE: No. It's very scary.

SMITH: But it's not out of your pocket.

Ms. McKEE: No. Absolutely not.

SMITH: Actually, I'm paying for this, right?

Ms. McKEE: Well, if you buy stamps, you are.

SMITH: By the time the tank is full...

Ms. McKEE: 62.50. I've never seen it this expensive.

Mr. BORIS BERDACHESKY(ph): Can I ask you a question?


Mr. BERDACHESKY: What are you doing?

SMITH: That's the gas station clerk, Boris Berdachesky, coming to chase me away from grousing customers? No, coming to grouse himself.

Mr. BERDACHESKY: You can talk to me about it too, because, you know, I have to pay just as much as these people.

SMITH: Okay.

Mr. BERDACHESKY: But don't treat me like I'm the manager.

SMITH: Okay.

Mr. BERDACHESKY: You know, I have to put up with everyone's (bleep) because they're angry at it, and I get paid the same. You know, people are asking me, it's like, no, I'm like the lowest-waged worker, like, you know, I just sit here and sniff fumes, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: A gas tanker pulls in to refill the gas station. Driver Doug Pinsley(ph) says he gets accosted by customers too.

Mr. DOUG PINSLEY: All the time. You know, it's not my fault. I'm going to drop 3400 gallons right here.

SMITH: Like everyone else, Pinsley also pays more at the pump, and it's a lot for his tri-axel tanker.

Mr. PINSLEY: We throw about 40 to 50 gallons in a night.

SMITH: So it cost you about 200 bucks to fill up the tank?

Mr. PINSLEY: Costs the company. That's crazy. But it's not my money. You know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: Off hours, Pinsley downsizes big time. He used to drive a pickup, but now he takes his motorcycle. That fills up for just about 13 bucks.

Tovia Smith, NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.