Peeved at the pump

Freedom New Mexico photo illustration: Liliana Castillo With gas prices around $3.75 a gallon, citizens are finding ways to cut back on driving.

By Liliana Castillo and Mickey Winfield: Freedom New Mexico

For Thomas Harrington II, gasoline was too expensive in 1983 when it
hit a dollar a gallon. Harrington said he has ridden a bike everywhere
since.

“Gas prices now don’t affect me one bit,” he said Friday. “I wouldn’t put up with it then and I don’t have to deal with it now.”

Harrington is an exception.

Several area residents said Friday they are driving less or canceled
summer vacations to deal with record gas prices — $3.75 a gallon for
regular unleaded gasoline at most area gas stations.

Lorenzo Ortiz of Clovis said his family copes with the rising gas prices by using their vehicle less.

“We only use it if we have to, for necessities. No more riding around just for the fun of it,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz also said his family has decided to only travel in state for vacation this summer.

Another Clovis resident, Raquel Urioste, said the gas prices are ridiculous and that her family is cutting back to handle it.

“We’re probably not going on vacation,” Urioste said. “And on the
weekends I have to tell my kids we can’t do that because mommy spent
that money on gas.”

Urioste said she also limits her trips to grocery stores until she
has a long list of things to buy instead of running to the store for
three items.

The national average price of a gallon of regular gas jumped 2.6
cents overnight to a record $3.671 a gallon on Friday, according to a
survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The
Energy Department expects prices to peak at a monthly average of $3.73
in June, though many analysts say national average prices could rise as
high as $4. Consumers in many regions, including parts of California
and Hawaii, are already paying that much.

“They’ve got us over a barrel and they’re going to keep us there,”
Clayton resident John Johnston said as he purchased gas Friday in
Portales. “It’s $3.65 where I’m from (in Clayton). It’s a lot higher
here.”

Johnson also said the price has gotten to the point where he limits his driving.

Portales resident Christopher Brito didn’t mince words about his feelings about the pain at the pump.

“It’s outrageous,” Brito said.

Junior Ramirez typically puts about $20 into his truck every time he
visits a gas station and lamented it buys less and less every time he
fills up.

“It’s getting crazy,” Ramirez said. “It’s unbelievable. I just put $20 in and it only got me just over five gallons.”

“I just wish they would deal with whatever they have to deal with
over there (in the Middle East) and start lowering (the price of gas),”
Ramirez said.

Ramirez said if prices go higher, he’ll start making changes.

“If it gets to $5 a gallon, I might think about getting a motorcycle
or something like that, something economical, or a four-cylinder car,”
Ramirez said.

Dion Hightower of Portales has already made a few changes. Hightower
lives close enough to his job to walk a couple of days a week to make
his gas last longer.

“I don’t pay much attention to it really,” Portales resident
Hightower said. “I just put in a set amount every week and hope that
gets me through to the next pay day.”