At the Georgetown Gulf gas station on Wisconsin Avenue and Q streets NW, two attendants pumped gas for a steady stream of cars and thought -- not about Christmas -- but about all the money they were making.
"We're going to earn about $90 each today," said the blond, bearded attendant, Bruce Holmgren, 21, as he shoved a nozzle into the gas tank of a blue van. "Usually, we make $3.50 an hour but today we're on commission -- 3 cents a gallon."
Holmgren, a student at Montgomery College in Rockville, said he was going to use the money "to party or for school expenses -- whichever comes first."
Holmgren says he usually works on Christmas, and sees his friends and family later in the day.
The blue van pulls away, and Holmgren pumps gas for a green station wagon.
"Just two dollars," says the woman behind the wheel.
"That won't get you very far," warms Holmgren.
"Three dollars," says the woman.
Meanwhile, the other gas station attendant, Derek Howard, 21, a sophomore at Howard University, pumps gas for a red Dodge. Howard is happy because he has been earning more money in tips than usual. By 3 p.m., he had earned $6. On most days, his tips would have amounted to only $2.50.
He said he spent last Christmas in New York with his grandmother. "But I really didn't have anything to do today, except maybe stay home with my folks and watch television. And I need the money for school."
The gas station owner, Bob Shelton, mills around the pumps, waving to customers.
"We celebrated Christmas last night," he said. "My five kids opened their Christmas presents last night and tonight we'll have another big meal."
Shelton, who usually works on Christmas, said he decided to stay open this year because the mayor's office offered him an extra allocation of gas -- 8,000 gallons -- if he would pump it.
"As far as a business goes, you've got to be here when the business is here," he says. "Business was a little slow this morning, but it's really picked up this afternoon. There's been a line of cars out here since 1 o'clock."
Shelton reaches into his pocket and withdraws a sterling silver key chain with the words "Rolls Royce" engraved on the medallion.
"My 11-year-old daughter gave me this for Christmas," he says, looking at it proudly. "Even the key is sterling silver. She was going to come to work with me today, but then she decided to stay home."