Saturday night I went to the movies to catch Iron Man, which turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. I found I was particularly mesmerized by
Downey’s performance and thought it was one of the best action-hero flicks I’ve seen in a while.
After the movie, I headed to The House of Pies for my usual patty melt with a cup of coffee and a slice of egg-custard pie for dessert. It’s your typical American diner and there’s nothing retro about the décor. According to the manager, they’ve done little upgrading since it first opened in 1964.
I took my usual stool at the counter. The place was buzzing, and a lot of spirited conversation seemed to be going on, especially with the two gentlemen sitting to the left of me.
“It just makes me sick whenever I go fill up for gas or buy groceries. Can you believe how much we’re paying these days? I spent $98 bucks to fill up my tank the other day.”
“Just a repeat of 1980,” said the other guy sitting next to me.
A repeat of 1980? Back then the jump in fuel prices from about 67 cents a gallon to a $1.10 did create a lot of panic, especially with the long lines that snaked around entire blocks. A couple times when you finally made it the pump after spending two hours in line, the attendant came out and put up the sign: “Out of gas. Closed.”
Whenever I had to get gas during that time, I made sure to bring plenty of work with me. I remember writing an entire term paper for English in one of those lines. What hardship we endured affected us mostly in terms of convenience, not economics, since we had already become fairly accustomed to rampant inflation during the seventies.
One of the funniest things I remember when gas crossed the $1 threshold was that many stations had to sell it by the half-gallon, since most pumps back then didn’t register more than 99.9 cents.
“Don’t know about 1980,” said the other guy. “All I know is that my damn truck’s eating up all my money and I got less in my wallet at the end of the month than I did a couple months ago.”