Not so silent E - I'm always a day early but a litre short


By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

I travelled to the city over the weekend to do a little shopping. Fortunately, it did not involve the purchase of overpriced Christmas presents, as my family decided years ago that the greatest gift we could give to one another over the holiday season was the gift of not having to buy stuff for one another. (I’m a grown man; I can buy my own underwear and toasters, thank you very much.) 

During my travels, I discovered quite the price discrepancy at the gas pumps that does pop up from time to time. Every station seemed to be sporting prices that took me back to the bygone era of 2003, when gas per litre was actually under a dollar. 

At first I assumed, quite naturally that I had somehow found a rip in the space time continuum and merely time travelled back a decade. To my surprise, that was not the case. Unfortunate, as I could have warned the world of impending disasters like the 2008 financial crisis and Beliebers. But no, time travel was not the case, as it was simply the result of oil prices hitting a four to five year low on the global stage. 

As glorious as this fuel saving weekend was, one thing occurred to me as I made my way home, why does rural Manitoba pay so much more at the pumps? For years, we’ve all heard the reasons why. “Because it costs more to transport.” Or “In larger markets there is more competition for customers.” Or “You don’t know the secret handshake to get cheap gas.” You know, the usual excuses. While each of those seems like a plausible reason why, it still felt like hollow answers. “Oh well,” I thought. “At least we’re all in this together. Right Portage la Prairie?”

But it turns out that it was not the case, for when I arrived in Portage, I saw with my own eyes the price betrayal, as a gas station on the east side sported a sign flaunting the price of 98.9 cents per litre.  

“Come on Portage! I thought we were in this together,” I pondered, as I passed right by to make my way to a convenience store. After buying the necessary supplies of a cola and beef jerky, I left Portage in the rear view and soldiered on up the Yellowhead Highway. 

After a short time, I found myself on the edge of Gladstone and thought. “Well, at least you guys are cool. You understand the struggle of high gas prices, just like us.” And while Gladstone did have three digits in front of the decimal point, it was still a few cents cheaper than Neepawa.

“Come on Gladstone! Not you too,” I yelled to no one in particular, as I stopped at a gas station. After buying the necessary supplies of cola and beef jerky, I left Happy Rock in the rear view a little bit sadder and continued my travels up the 16.

As I arrived home to Neepawa that late Sunday evening, I found very familiar and very high numbers up upon the signs. I simply resigned myself to our lot in life and topped up the vehicle for the week ahead and thought no more about it, until now. 

Finally after an extended wait, we find ourselves with fuel numbers more in line with everyone else. I would rejoice at this windfall, were it not the fact that I was staring at a gas gauge pointing at F instead of E. If only I had held out a few days longer, I could have used that extra six cents per litre to buy more cola and beef jerky.