The Wacky Perils of Navigating Gas Stations in New York City: Keep Your Mace Handy

The Wacky Perils of Navigating Gas Stations in New York City: Keep Your Mace Handy


I do not drive. I have never had a driver’s license in my life. I did once get a driver’s lerner’s permit when I lived in Washington, DC. However, that ended badly when I went out for a test drive and freaked out at the sight of a huge truck coming at me from the other direction. I tried to do a three-point turn (is that what it is called) and froze. This was in a small two-lane in the suburbs. After that, I kind of said “Duck it. I’m a New Yorker. I can walk everywhere”.  If it weren’t for all my business trips, my carbon footprint would be rather small.

Nonetheless, I am in cars a lot as the shotgun passenger. Thus, I act as a front seat/backseat driver. I am often the navigator getting the driver from point A to point B. Often we get lost, but I love getting lost. New places are so much more interesting that way, unless you get lost in Gary, Indiana. That-that is not too much fun.

Anyway, there have been a couple of times where as the shotgun navigator I have had a front seat row to when we pumped gas into the car in New York City. Can I give you one immediate point of advice? Don’t get gas in NYC.

One time in the Upper East Side we stopped for gas at about 9:00pm we were returning from a business trip desperately trying to get the car back to the rental car place in time. Odd thing. Many rental car places in New York City close early. We have 24 hour restaurants and stores but not that many (if any) 24 hour rental car places. What gives?  Anyway, we missed the cut off time because it took us forever to get gas. We waited over 45 minutes and almost got into a full out fight with a gang of limo drivers. Yes, limo drivers. There was anger over the long line as there always is New York City. And as always, someone tries to cut the line. That led to shouting matches and cars trying to inch forward while cutting someone else off.  It was hilarious to see women in full length fur coats and obviously manicured hands come out swinging at the gas station. People raised their voices and the gas station attendants just stood to the side as if they were watching a premium HBO boxing match. At one point a few limo drivers descending upon us shouting out the needs of their clients (as if we cared) and my colleague got out and stood her ground.  At that point in time, I used to carry pepper spray and was prepared to use it. Although, I did wonder if that would cause a spark and a fire. I didn’t want to be a Billy Joel song. At that point, I noticed there was a slight opening for one of the pump stations and got out of the car and ran into the spot holding down the fort.  Yes, we got our gas ahead of the crazy limo driver and sped on out of there. Well, not really sped. It is New York City. After such an ordeal we needed a few cocktails and a place to park the car overnight. That is a whole other story.

At another point in time, we had a U-Haul and were trying to get gas on the West Side near the Lincoln Tunnel. That turned into the nightmare of the living dead situation. As we went through several one way streets to make it to the gas station, we were accosted by a group of individuals who started shaking our U-Haul knocking over our rear-view mirror. They were chanting and intoxicated. We were scared and trying to hit the speed pedal. They had appeared out of nowhere and there were (oddly enough) no other cars on that street. We obviously had missed some memo that day. How do people get gas in new York City?

If I had to help you navigate to a gas station in New York City. Guess what? I would give you directions to New Jersey where they will pump the gas for you and where it is often 50 cents cheaper, to boot.  But do me a favor and don’t tell anyone I told you to go to Jersey. I am a die-hard New Yorker who has a reputation to keep J

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