The value of a full gas tank is reckoned in more than money these days.
In exchange for a fill-up, "two women, on separate occasions, offered their bodies," said John Busch, assistant manager of the Montgomery Mall Exxon Station in Bethesda.
"They said, 'Give me some gas and I can meet you later - to pay for it,'" Busch reported.
Another, more prosaic motorist offered him $50 for a full tank earlier this week.
Busch said yesterday that he declined all three offers.
By mid-morning yesterday, one gas line stretched for three miles along Rockville Pike, Montgomery County police reported.The 250 or more cars, some of which arrived at 6 a.m., were waiting for a tank truck to make a promised delivery to Giant Gasoline.
They waited until noon. The truck never came.
One Northwest D.C. gas station owner, whose partner had a shotgun waved in his face by a motorist last week, found history repeating itself the other night.
Shortly after he closed the station, a motorist drove up, got out of his car, pulled a revolver from under his coat and said, "I want gas."
"So I just went in and put the pumps back on and gave him gas," said the owner. "He never did pay me."
In Fairfax County, at least one school bus driver learned first-hand that you don't block gas lines, no matter what the reason.
The bus driver had a minor collision with a car and, as the law stipluates, left her bus at the scene of the accident - and in the path of a gas line. A burst off profanities followed her as she walked away to report the accident.
Time was worth of least $35 to one Silver Spring motorist. Arriving to find a line at a Georgia Avenue Chevron station, the man paid $5 each to seven or eight motorists so he could cut into the line ahead of them.
At a station on Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, a dealer reported that, when he put a "Last Car" sign up to end of the line yesterday morning, a new arrival snatched the sign off the back of the last car and put it up on his own rear window.
The newcomer didn't keep the sign long, though. Another, newer arrival soon pulled in behind him and appropriated the "Last Car" sign for himself.
As she waited yesterday, gas-line veteran Terry Woody of Wheaton offered a lesson in frontier justice, gas-line style: "People try to get in front of you. The way to combat that is to keep a sharp eye open. Get two or three people in line to go up to that person and force 'em out."
Using those tactics, "We've moved three people out" of the line in front of her, Woody reported proudly.
The gas line started forming at the Montgomery Mall Exxon station in Bethesda at 2:30 a.m. yesterday. By 5:30, 30 cars had queued up. By 7, shortly after the station opened, the line wound 1.3 miles around the mall.
Above it towered the mall's marquee, with its red-lettered sign: CAR SHOW.
Elaine Haisley, a Californian vacationing in Maryland, was incredulous at what she saw yesterday. "These lines are circling the whole block," she said. ". . . Even at its worst, we didn't have this problem."
Then there was the elderly woman who pulled into an Exxon in Fairfax City yesterday, asking for a fill-up.
The attendant put in the hose and started to pump. Seconds later, with the meter reading "$0.80," the pump cut off.
"I'm sorry ma'am," the attendant said, "looks like there's something wrong with the pump."
He tried again; but the pump still refused to put more gas in the car.
"Oh, that's all right. I just filled my tank a few blocks ago," said the woman. "You never know when you might run short." CAPTION: Picture, A four-block line of taxicab drivers formed on M Street NE yesterday to buy gas at a cab company's pump. By James M. Thresher - The Washington Post