I read an article the other day that reported an interesting dilemma in the making. Apparently, older “Mom-and-Pop” service stations equipped with older pumps are unable to process gasoline purchases at a cost higher than $3.99 per gallon. That’s because their pump’s price dials were never configured to handle a “4” in the dollar column. I’m not making this stuff up, folks. If there is a sad spin to an otherwise amusing story, it seems many of these stations will be forced out of business. The cost of replacing the pumps is prohibitively expensive considering the volume of gasoline sold.
Imagine the Possibilities
If such short-sighted design, reminiscent of the “Y2k” programming flaws, could be the answer to keeping prices low, what other areas of our lives could we implement such tactics? Imagine if fifty years ago car dealerships had not planned for five-figure pricing. “No one will ever pay $10,000 for a car!” We might all be driving Model T’s, but at least they would be paid for.
What if soft drink vending machines had not thought to equip new machines with dollar bill accepters? With the price of a 20oz. bottle of Coca Cola now as high as $1.25 out of a machine, would there be a national shortage of quarters? Surely this would have capped the cost of vending machine goods at $1.00 because anything more than four quarters just seems ludicrous! Well, at least it used to seem so.
If there were no “big and tall” clothing stores, would we all be forced to conform to “standard” sizes to find an adequate wardrobe. As a big and mostly tall guy, I’ve benefited from “big and tall” men’s clothing shops, so I can’t knock this idea too hard. However, I wonder if I had more difficulty finding expandable waistlines, and plus-sized shirts if I would be more strict with my diet and exercise program. Not much I can do about being tall, but plenty I could do better about being big.
A Growing Trend
It seems over the years our nation has outgrown their pants and their pocketbooks (and now their gas pumps). Some of it can be attributed to inflation, the rest of it to our insatiable collective appetites for something bigger and better. Either way, it is obvious something has to change. The Wisdom Journal seems to think higher gas prices may be good for us. Now that’s a statement you won’t hear on the nightly news! He may be onto something. There are some industries out there really hurting because of the high prices (trucking, travel, etc.), but for the majority of us this spike in prices has forced us to look for ways to conserve, to be more frugal. In this way the higher prices have been a good thing. However, I hope for the sake of the “Mom-and-Pop” store owners we see some relief soon.