Local News

Motorists get free gas

Posted May 22, 2008

— More than 150 motorists lined up in neighborhoods surrounding a Shell station participating in a nationwide gas giveaway on Thursday.

After finally making drivers move to a staging area at the Durham County Stadium about a mile away, police escorted them five at a time to the Shell station at 3615 N. Roxboro St. Officers established a one-way flow of traffic through the station.

The first 200 customers got $40 pre-paid gas cards, courtesy of the Verizon Yellow Pages and Superpages.com.

“I feel so blessed. Gas is so high,” said Constance Green, of Durham, who got voucher.

The giveaway was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but the sheer number of drivers lined up around the station forced employees to begin four hours early.

The first customers started lining up at the station around midnight and camped out overnight.

“It's bad. It's bad. If it goes up another dollar, we'll be buying bikes,” said Derek Eady. 

Eady, of Durham, was one of the first people in line.

By 8 a.m., the station had run out of vouchers for the gas cards – leaving plenty of disappointed customers who showed up later Thursday morning.

Parked cars lined streets around the Shell station, and traffic backed up for miles during the morning rush hour. One traffic jam extended back to Interstate 85, more than 1.5 miles away.

Police said they eventually had to start ordering parked drivers away from the area. Cars lined the streets in one residential area, along Olympic Drive.

To ease congestion, police moved everyone who was in line and had a voucher to the stadium parking lot.

Jamie Wilkins, who is unemployed, said she had 70 cents in her pocket and was running dry on money and gas. The Durham resident's car was pushed into the station.

“I really needed the gas. I was here because I really needed the gas. It was no other way to get anywhere today to get anything accomplished in my life,” Wilkins said.

Verizon officials said the company might repeat the giveaway this summer because gas prices are so high, but could not give any definite plans.

Regular unleaded fuel was going for $3.85 gallon at the Roxboro Street Shell station on Thursday.

The giveaway at 24 stations across the country is part of a promotion to kick off the summer travel season.

Record high gas prices have changed the spending habits of many people.

Durham resident Sonja Fishe said gas prices have led to her family to ride bikes more often. Fishe, a stay-at-home mother of 10 children, also got a job. Instead of taking a vacation this summer, Fishe said her family will camp out in the yard. Fishe and her husband are also trying to save money wherever possible.

“He bought me lettuce for Mother’s Day. Tomato plants for Mother’s Day – which I’m happy to plant so we grow our own food. That’s what we do to cut back,” Fishe said.

Victoria McNeil, also of Durham, cares for her 2-year-old nephew. McNeil is trying to potty train the child so she can save money on diapers. It is either gas or diapers for her nephew, she said.

Ellie Stevenson is using her credit card to pay for gas. The Durham resident said her family has already canceled summer trips to the beach and Disney World because of rising gas prices.

“We’re gonna stay at home and maybe go to the lake a couple times, but not even that many times 'cause to get on the highway and to drive, it cost too much," Stevenson said.


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  • malave27896 May 22, 2008

    I hope the while people were waiting in line for hours that the police were able to run the tag numbers off cars to see if there were any active warrants.......then that way get some of the dumb criminals off the street. Because I know that a few of them had to show up to get something free....at least they were not stealing for a few hours..

  • NCTeacher May 22, 2008

    You know what- I have a good job. I don't have to work for minimum wage. But with the price of gas right now- things are tight for everyone, even those of us with 4 year degrees and salaries. That $40 of free gas may have allowed someone to buy $40 more groceries this month because the price of gas drives the price of almost everything else we buy. I am not a greedy person, but who doesn't want something for nothing? I'll take any freebie someone is handing out.

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO May 22, 2008

    I bet you that most of those people in line have plenty of income and they really did not need that $40.00 gas card. Its sad, but America is coming to this. Greed from those that have, those that dont have always do without.... GREAT COUNTRY ISNT IT...

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO May 22, 2008

    I can bet you that more than half the people in line have plenty of money and I am sure that there were alot of "Huge" SUV's as well. What they should have done is go to the people in job places that make very little above minium wage that struggle just to get to and from work. I mean all those wonderful people that work at grocery stores, retail, and fast food places that put with america's mess time after time, standing on their feet 8 or more hours a day trying to make the needs of the family living each day. Verizon should have done a "Phone Patrol" with Free Gas Cards. They should have visited these places listed above and asked these people....."Do you have a Verizon Phone" If they could show proof that they do, Presto: you get a free $40 gas card. Now that is a great way to take care of the "little" people who still buy products from the big companies and a way to say: THANK YOU. I know many people that have so much and they still are out their looking for a FREE BUCK. I bet

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO May 22, 2008

    The next major give-a-way should be Bicycles at Krispy Kreme....

  • billstd80 May 22, 2008


  • ringmaster May 22, 2008

    It seems, to me anyhow, that rising gas prices have forced families to spend more time together as well as excercise more riding their bicycles to and fro. So yes, gas is becoming more expensive but aren't some of the benefits worth it?

  • denverbob234 May 22, 2008

    I guess all the crime in Durham has been done away with since the cops have enough time to deal with traffic at a gas give away

  • denverbob234 May 22, 2008

    to wait more than 2 hours for $40 worth of gas is insane. To camp out for it is beyond stupid.

  • Common Sense Man May 22, 2008


    What's a warrant book?