Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The price of petrol

Will Teddy de Burca jnr’s one man boycotts leave him stranded or will the petrol stations finally crumble and apologise?

I’m running out of petrol. I’m also running out of petrol stations. You see I have a few boycotts simultaneously running across town. You can feel free to join me, but I’m fairly confident that my one-man-snub will have the necessary repercussions.

Soon, and perhaps that means years from now, if we are looking at this from a 21st century perspective, the owners of petrol stations on Kim Ma, Hoang Hoa Tham, the other one past the ILu Building on the Dike road, and about seven others around town, hither and thither, will be reeling under the weight of my economic sanctions and be on their knees begging for me to lift the embargo and come back to trade at their rusty old pumps.

You see each of them owes me either a small sum of money or a certain amount of petrol – I’ll accept either, taking current inflated levels into account, along with a heartfelt apology from the masked bandits, who duped me in broad daylight.

Perhaps you might argue it's poetic justice for owning a two-stroke motorbike with a ludicrously large petrol tank which I treated like a bottomless well, but here’s the trick I continually fell for: I roll into the petrol station and the pump attendant starts pumping away (yes, yes innuendo...) with carefree abandon having accidentally forgotten on purpose to swipe the previous customers’ total. Even if I suspected they did it, it was hard to prove with no petrol gauge. I’d lean over and stare inside, but all I’d hear was the sound of the sea.

This quick, sharp cheat can make the little purloiner anything from VND5,000 to VND30,000. So lord knows how much those witches on Tong Dan/ Hang Tre took me for back in the day when I used to drive a two-wheeled tractor called an MZ which had a petrol tank that could have doubled as an ocean liner and ferried oil back and forth from the deep blue yonder.

And to think I kept coming back as I thought they loved me. I used to sing to them while they cooed sweet compliments in my ear to distract me, “Anh dep trai”, “Anh cao the!”, “Anh-this-that-the-other-the!”

I benignly believed they were filling my tank up as much as I’d asked and was continually stumped – yes, I’m slow out of the blocks – to discover myself running out of petrol 24 hours after putting umpteen gallons inside the blasted bike.

The day I finally copped on and caught them they just shrugged their shoulders and left me to spit and spew in the 40 degree heat. But at least I had cottoned on to the con. Not that I probably haven‘t fallen for it since.

Most recently the little dumpling of a woman at the petrol station closest to my office betrayed me. My suspicions became aroused when she started rubbing my arms and telling me, “Oi gioi oi! Dep the! Dep the!” Jarringly sweet words for a petrol station I now know – En garde diminutive woman!

Sadly for her and her ilk now I’m armed with a petrol gauge so I’m nabbing the cheeky little so-and-sos all over town. But you see that’s part of the problem, I’m running out of petrol stations and now I’m running out of petrol.


Hoang Viet Anh said...

Um`, missing the black Vespa quite a bit, but currently enjoy the red Honda. 2 litters for 100 km is a real luxury :-)

pittstop designer said...

An admirably light carbon footprint I must say. I think the MZ was 2 litres for about 10km!