The Wonder Of Fuel Points

When I first started driving, back in 1973, I think the price of regular gas was about 27.9 cents a gallon.

IMG_3442Then the first oil embargo occurred, and gas prices skyrocketed to — oh, I don’t know — maybe 55 cents a gallon?  And the nation was outraged.

In those long ago days, the idea that Americans would pay more than $60 to fill up their gas tanks would have been absolutely ludicrous.  Now, unfortunately, it is commonplace.

Which is why I felt young again when Kish and I stopped to fill up the tank at Giant Eagle on Sunday, and our accumulated Fuel Points allowed us to get premium unleaded gasoline for the ’70s-era price of 55.9 cents a gallon.  A complete fill-up for less than $10!  I felt like going out for a sausage pizza at Tommy’s and then taking Kish to watch the terrifying new thriller Jaws.

Who would have thought that a marketing technique like Fuel Points could make you feel like you were back in high school?

Back To The Days Of Friendly Sam Drucker

The Albertson’s grocery store chain, which does business in the south and west, is eliminating self-checkout lanes in its stores because the stores want “the opportunity to talk to customers more.”  According to the article, other chains are considering following suit.

I’m opposed to getting rid of self-checkout lanes.  They are irritating, of course, with the female voice that constantly tells you to “place the item in the bag” and asks “do you have any coupons?”  But I’m willing to put up with the irritation in order to avoid waiting in line behind someone who has a huge cartload.

I’m curious, however, about what the Albertsons chain thinks cashiers are going to talk to the customers about.  It’s as if they envision a return to the days of Sam Drucker behind the counter at the Hooterville General Store, where a customer and Sam could sit down by the cracker barrel and trade gossip about the crazy doings of the Douglases at their Green Acres farm.  It makes me wonder if anyone in management at Albertsons has actually been through a grocery store check-out lane recently.

I’m not sure what I would do if one of the local Kroger or Giant Eagle cashiers tried to engage me in conversation.  The harried cashiers quickly swiping items typically don’t even make eye contact, much less engage in deep discussions.  And even if the cashiers were riveting conversationalists, I’m confident that the people waiting in line aren’t going to be happy about the cashier and the customer chewing the fact instead of moving as quickly as they can.

Long live self-checkout lanes!

Straub – Highly Recommended

Before the late, much-lamented Corner’s Beverage Shoppe closed its doors, and Richard went off on his European adventure, on Fridays he and I used to pick out a six-pack or two of new beers to sample over the weekend.  One day we picked out a six-pack of Straub, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  (Since Corner’s has gone away, I’ve been glad to learn that Straub also is carried by the New Albany Giant Eagle in its enormous “beer cave.”)

The label on the bottle advertises Straub as “honestly fresh,” and I think that is a very fair description.  The brew is a light, quite tasty lager with good body, a clean, smooth taste, and no aftertaste.

Although I’ve only discovered it recently, Straub beer has been around since 1872.  It is brewed in Pennsylvania — hey, I thought only Rolling Rock and Iron City came from the Quaker State! — and is a good example of the quality microbrewery offerings that can be found throughout America.  And, in these days of high gas prices and penny-pinching economic uncertainty, when six-packs of some microbrew offerings are priced at $10 and above, Straub’s reasonable price is as refreshing as its beer.  I’m glad Richard and I decided to try it during one of our weekend beer samplings.