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Rich People Don't Need Gas

by Susan Hewson 11 months ago in fact or fiction

Where are all the gas stations in wealthy neighborhoods?

Lexus, Mercedes, Range Rover. Luxury cars are driven by the luckiest, most financially secure members of our society, but where do they fill up? Usually not in their neighborhoods. How appalling it would be to stick a big smelly gas station or convenience store near homes with perfectly manicured lawns and front yard fountains. Gas stations and convenience stores are found in higher quantity and lower quality in neighborhoods that are considered less desirable, with a lower average income per household- let’s talk about it.

I looked at the wealthiest neighborhoods and the poorest neighborhoods to compare access to convenience stores and made a few observations. First, when you type “wealthiest neighborhoods in Denver” into the search bar, a concise list is generated based on housing prices and income. When you type in “poorest neighborhoods in Denver,” the results are jarring. Instead of a list, the search engine provides results such as “areas to avoid” and “worst neighborhoods in Denver.” No nice list based on data, just warnings to steer clear or suffer. Second, I found that the wealthiest neighborhoods have very few convenience stores that are spread apart while the poorest have several all placed fairly close together. For example I found that the wealthiest neighborhood inside Denver had only two options for convenience stores, while one of the poorest had nine.

So do rich people not need gas? Surely there isn't some kind of secret gas delivery service that people can only gain knowledge about once their student loans are paid and they start shopping at Nordstrom. They need gas to drive their fancy cars, they just have to go out of their way to get it, which makes sense for several reasons.

First, gas stations are an eyesore. When a gas station is found in a wealthy neighborhood, it’s usually adorned with fancy cobblestones and merchandise includes kombucha. The whole point of living in a nice neighborhood is for the ambiance and general illusion of safety, so of course they wouldn’t stick a gas station in the middle of it. When they do, it’s disguised to not look like a gas station. Second, gas stations are generally marketed toward lower income populations in the same way that Whole Foods is marketed towards lonely housewives who think they can cook. Gas stations and convenience stores stock their shelves with junk food, sodas, alcohol and all the many ways to consume nicotine. These items are marketed towards low-income folks who find them affordable and easy. I’ve never seen someone step out of their Lexus while chewing tobacco and sipping on a big gulp. Third, there is a big difference between the type and quality of cars driven by people of different incomes. Wealthier people can afford cars that not only look nicer, but run better and get greater gas mileage. Meanwhile, most people living below or just above the poverty line drive used cars, or ones with major issues severely reducing how many miles they can drive before forking up gas money. Simply put, they can’t afford to drive out of their way for gas.

Rich people need gas, but with an abundance of resources and time, they’re able to seek it out without a worry. Meanwhile, when the gas light switches on in my Toyota during my journey through their manicured lawns I’m left to wonder- where’s the gas?

fact or fiction
Susan Hewson
Susan Hewson
Read next: 'Stop! We're Going to Crash'
Susan Hewson
See all posts by Susan Hewson

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