Petrol Pump Predicament

As the price of petrol gets higher and higher the threat of disruptive action grows heavier and heavier and, today, TransAction 2007 is reportedly arranging for a convoy of trucks to descend on London to deliver a coffin symbolising the death of the haulage industry to Number 10.

Diesel prices are 30% higher than they were a year ago and that, along with strike action at fuel depots, means that many people are starting to panic purchase their petrol. One forecourt local to me even ran out of unleaded yesterday and this prompted me to join the ranks of panic buyers and go in search of some fuel.

The Jeep still had a quarter of a tank of unleaded in it, but it uses that just to drive out of the car park, and even though we can go several days without using the car I decided it was probably best to potter out whilst most people are in their offices and top it to the brim. I even chucked a couple of 5-litre cans in to the boot – for the lawnmower, obviously.

Finding a petrol station that still had unleaded was surprisingly easy. Clearly, a fuel shortage hasn’t hit us yet, but because the newspapers say it’s going to there were a few cars on the forecourt of Soham’s BP station, and I wasn’t the only one who had decided to fill up a couple of spare cans as well as my car’s tank.

At £1.12 a litre (that equates to an eye-watering $10.02 US Dollars per gallon, Mr America) it wasn’t the cheapest petrol station around, but at least there weren’t queues down the high street waiting to use it and I hadn’t had to drive around and around burning off fuel in search of an available unleaded pump.

As the miserable April showers clattered on the corrugated roof I filled the Jeep and my two cans up and watched men in all sorts of cars doing the same around me, all hoping we’ve stolen a march on any potential fuel disaster and all praying that it won’t be as bad as the press is saying it might be. I rounded the pump off to a credit card crumbling £80.00 and sauntered in to pay.

“Number seven or eight,” I told the attendant as I got to the front of the queue. I couldn’t see which pump number my car was alongside. “It’s the one that’s at eighty quid.”

“Certainly, sir,” the attendant said. He took my credit card, pushed it in to the keypad and got me to type in my PIN. Within a second the payment had cleared, he handed me the slip and I was walking away when I suddenly realised that I needed a VAT receipt for the accountant.

“Sorry, mate,” I said, stepping back. “Can I have a VAT receipt please?”

He nodded, idly tapping some keys, and produced a slip of paper which he handed to me. I was about to walk away when I realised he’d made a mistake. “Sorry again,” I said, trying to be polite and not at all annoying. “I think you’ve given me the wrong receipt. This one says £46.21.”

“Bugger,” the attendant hissed. “It’s the right receipt, that’s the second time today I’ve done that. Sorry, chap, but I better charge you the difference then…”

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