Thursday, April 19, 2012

Local Man Over-Internalizes Casual Comment About Car

Vero Beach, FL - In response to a passer-by's "Hey, nice Vette. Looks clean." comment, area retiree and Corvette owner Ralph Garrison was overcome with a completely internalized, smug sense of self-satisfaction for the next 20 minutes.

Since first purchasing the 2005 base model Corvette in mid-2005 at a model year closeout deal, Garrison has meticulously paid to have every element of the vehicle maintained, including all optional services recommended by dealers, independent shops, car washes, and random strangers. Although he has spent nearly half of the car's original $72,900 sticker price on maintenance and detailing alone, he nonetheless claims a sense of personal pride and hard work that belies how little work was actually involved in driving the automatic-transmission-equipped vehicle a mere 2,000 miles per year on mainly straight, flat roads.

"She's still purring like a kitten after all this time" Garrison added, tacitly claiming responsibility for the car's condition while refusing to acknowledge the car's 60-year pedigree and tens of millions of dollars of engineering, design, racing, and testing that led to the car's current status. "I guess there's something to be said for the quality of Detroit steel after all," he continued while lovingly patting the car's roof panel which, unbeknownst to him, had already begun detaching at its low-quality welds and would soon remove itself while driving on A1A with the cruise control set to 45mph, leading him to question the sanity of 500-mile oil Amsoil synthetic oil change intervals, 1,000-mile Michelin tire replacements, and, in turn, his entire car ownership habits.

"It just goes to show," Mr. Garrison says, "that a little hard work with your maintenance and care can go a long way. This toy is my own little gift to myself for years of hard work and sacrifice."

Garrison's fortune comes from using his family trust fund to make random investments in the dot-com boom which, completely coincidentally, were still booming at the time of his stock liquidation and 1999 retirement to Florida.

In related news, retired GM CEO Rick Wagoner has been working on his memoirs, entitled "The Best We Could Do: GM's Failure in the Hands of the Ignorant Consumer."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gas Stations Test Improper Fraction Pricing

Ever since a handful of enterprising gas station owners devised the now-common "nine tenths" addition to fuel prices, not a single entrepreneur has taken steps to further confuse consumers about how much they're actually paying at the pump.

As gasoline once again approaches the important $4/gallon psychological barrier in the US, a handful of station owners in suburban Detroit are taking fractional pricing one step further.

Yesterday, the sign outside Dee's Chevron station in Dearborn read "$3.87 9/10". This morning, it read "$31/8".

"I'm not trying to confuse people to make some extra cash. I'm just trying to take the edge off of the price increases. After all, gas could hit 37, maybe 39 eights of a dollar before this summer and I don't want people avoiding my station because they think $4.62 and nine-tenths is a better price. Plus we're offering a 15-eighths of a dollar discount on all carwashes with minimum eight gallon fuel purchase."

Have you seen this one yet? I bet you haven't. Please forward it to your mom's AOL email.
Critics fear the new pricing scheme could cause traffic backups as customers struggle to translate the new prices into familiar terms. One suggestion included pricing fuel according to a multiple of Big Macs, in a nod to the Big Mac Index, a classic measure of international purchasing power coined by British financial newspaper The Economist. Another suggestion mentioned pegging fuel to Starbucks Coffee's Grande Latte, but researchers determined the coffee retailer's prices were too volatile to serve as a base price index.

Across the street from Dee's Chevron, Pakistani chemical engineer and BP station owner Rakesh Sultan prefers to draw on his educational background. "Beginning tomorrow, I will post all prices as an exponential function of e," he said, showing us a full-color mockup of his $e^1.5 signage. He concludes, "I have no need for a fraction in my maths, only decimal. Call me 'the lowest common dominator.' That is the pun in English."

Just across the river in Ontario, Canadian consumers were unfazed by the news. "We've successfully fought American influence with our three-fold approach: The metric system, socialized healthcare, and cold weather. If the petroleum industry wants to bring their improper fractions here, we'll confuse them into submission with our litre measurements and slightly different dollar system."