June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:37 PM
"Islanders are fortunate to be able to time travel. All you have to do is drive into one of those mega gas stations on the mainland and you're back about six months to where gas was 24 cents a gallon cheaper. Conversely, people who want to see the future can simply come to Whidbey Island, where gas prices are where they will be on the mainland six months from now. The 24 cent price differential was enough to entice me into a mega station recently, an act which takes as much nerve as entering a demolition derby with your family car. This Arco complex must have had 32 pumps, and lines of cars waiting to race to the first opening.But it wasn't cars dashing to the open pump that concerned me. It's what happens after the cars arrive at the pump. The drivers jump out, slip a card or $20 bill into a machine, grab the pump, and realize their car's gas cap is on the OTHER SIDE of the car. The hoses are too short and bulky to pull across the car, so they jump back in and execute a three-point turn with all the finesse of Clint Eastwood, and return to the pump before another car can squeeze in. At any given time there are half a dozen Dirty Harrys wheeling around the pumps, trying to regain their place while avoiding waiting cars, people carrying Slurpies and corn dogs, and others wandering around looking for the bathrooms, as if this were a 1960s Texaco station. Get with it, folks. There is no longer a man who wears a star to point you to the bathroom, although the clerk will give you a key to a concrete bunker they call a bathroom if you don't mind waiting half an hour.I watched the Arco demolition derby for 10 minutes before it was my turn at the pump, and naturally I did the same thing as everyone else. MY gas cap was on the other side of the car, so I left the pump dangling to announce it was occupied, wheeled backwards, jerked forward, dodged four panicky citizens, turned around, gave some bozo eyeing my spot the evil grin, and eased back in with the correct side of the car facing the pump.Whew, I could have been a dead man, or charged with vehicular Slushiecide, or some such crime. I had to wonder: Why don't car makers all put the gas caps on the same side of the car? Wake up, legislators, there's still something that hasn't been regulated. Car manufacturers put gas caps anywhere they please, and this has got to stop.Saturday I did a parking lot check behind The Record office with the following results. Chevy Luv, left side gas cap (L), Subaru right side (R), Taurus R, Mustang R, Mazda L, Accord L, Honda L, Mercury R, Jeep L, Accura L, BMW R, Ranger L, Saab R, Caravan L, Toyota R, Jetta R, Saturn L, Montana L.The majority are left sided, which makes sense because that's where the driver sits. Ban those right sided gas caps. It's time that all Americans know where their gas cap is. Get to work, legislators. If not for the people then for the car insurance companies of America who will give you large campaign contributions to get it done."