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$4 gallon of gas

In the middle of the night, needing to put gas in my car, I ended up paying over $4 per gallon for the first time that I can recall. I was unpleasantly bothered by that fact.

Rewind a few years back, and I used to pay nearly £5 per gallon while living in the UK. During the height of the exchange rate imbalance, that translated to roughly $10 per gallon. Furthermore, expressed as a percentage of my salary, every £5 gallon of gas took roughly twice as much a bite out of my earnings than every $4 gallon I’m buying now.

And yet, I do not recall being bothered by high fuel prices in my three years in Europe.

I wonder why. What is so different in my mindset now, compared to then, that a relatively smaller outlay bothers me so much more?


  1. jason

    Hi, Ilya, it’s been a while. Hope all is well.

    I would speculate that the discomfort with rising gas prices here in the US as opposed to high gas prices in the UK is something of a cultural identity thing. The US is car-centric (and car-dependent) in a way that the UK is not, and until fairly recently gas prices have been dirt cheap in this country. You’ve lived here long enough that you have probably internalized that identity, so it bothers you to see those prices rising for the same reason it bothers native-born Americans: it’s a new thing for us, and it’s going to make our lives very uncomfortable in the short-term. Whereas in the UK, high fuel prices, more economical cars, and public transit are longstanding facts of life. The culture there has adapted to those realities, and they’re no surprise to anyone, including visitors. So less pain.

    Well, it’s an idea, anyway…

  2. Ilya

    I want to say it makes sense, Jason, but several things seem to contradict that. I was not a visitor in the UK (as in “I was not а tourist”), I first moved there with no specific timeline for a return. In our three years there, I drove over 50,000 miles all over Western Europe. I was leasing an American type of a car, with an American-like fuel efficiency… While we depended on our car a bit less while in the UK, the difference was not as tremendous as it might appear.

    But something about cultural differences might be correct. After all, I never managed to feel home in the UK, for all my love for soccer…

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