BAD GAS – The Tales from the Pump at a Notorious DC Gas Station
Read my latest cover story for the Washington City Paper that chronicles the almost unbelievable goings-on at one DC gas station. Researching this story was a real eye opener on how the gas selling business works these days – all in all, a pretty “oily” business. At the particular station I profiled, there had been shootings – including a homicide – muggings, purse snatching, aggressive pan handling, multiple rat sightings, and a general disregard for such things as giving out receipts and posting the prices. The owner seems to make a pretty good living from the stations he owns but doesn’t appear overly concerned about providing good service to customers. But that seems to be the way this industry works; Skeeviness cascades downward from corporate headquarters all the way to the pumps at neighborhood stations. Small operators are being driven out of business in DC and all over the country, as Chevron and other Big Oil companies put street level sales in the hands of regional distributors called “jobbers,” who operate on even lower margins than the traditional ma’ and pa’ outfits. Just don’t expect the squeeze on the profitability of local stations to trickle down to customers.