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It’s a gas: A case study in technology vs. familiarity

On Tuesday, regular unleaded was $3.99.9 at Speedway and $3.98.9 across the street at Peerless. If it appears someone doctored this photo to bring the signs closer together – say by making a four-door a two-door and taking out some motel buildings and part of a horse trailer – well, just know that most photographers wouldn’t do that. (Action Line illustration)

Dear Action Line: Peerless Tyre gas station is right across Main Avenue from a Speedway. Their signs display a constant gas war. I love Peerless ’cuz of, well, tradition. And the fact that their squeegees are always in good shape and their receipts actually print out. Anyway, this seems an unfair gas war. Peerless has to manually adjust its sign. Speedway just has to press a button to change its price. Surely this is a “sign” of our times: digital connection versus hands-on reality ... or something like that. – Lou Blue

Dear Lou: There must be a question here somewhere, but Action Line will simply look for answers and not worry about it.

Representatives of both Speedway and Peerless emphasized there is no price war and they get along just fine. Here’s the deal:

Speedway does a quick “field survey” of a couple of surrounding gas stations, and sends that information to the corporate office, which sets the daily price, explained Clara Kling, manager of the Speedway at 20th and Main.

On the other side of Main, the folks at Peerless keep an eye on Speedway’s price. And always go 1 cent cheaper.

And yes, the manual adjustment can cause some scrambling, said Peerless Assistant Manager Daniel Holley. They have to pull out the ladder, find the new numbers, and painstakingly make the changes some 15 to 20 feet in the air. Holley said with a smile that one day it seemed Speedway kept changing prices just to make them do the extra work.

Sure, Peerless could go digital, but there’s one really good reason not to: The tall sign along Main does not meet city code, but it’s grandfathered in because it’s been there so long. Holley said that any new price sign would have to be about half the height of the current sign.

Technology sure has taken the fun and adventure out of things. Next they’ll be making vehicles that practically steer for you, or let you know when you appear to be dozing, or answer phone calls, or, wouldn’t this be something – don’t even need gas to run.

But those things are surely a long way off.

Dear Action Line: Why is this column named “Action Line”? Don’t get me wrong, I like your column; it is the first thing I turn to when I sit down with my coffee and read The Durango Herald. But, do you really take action, or am I missing something? It seems that often you embarrass readers by correcting grammar and misspelled words of innocently submitted questions. In most cases your responses have nothing to do with “Action.” And then there is the word “line.” Does that reference phone line or telegraph line or line in the sand or what? Seems very antiquated. So where did the column title “Action Line” come from? Thanks and keep up the good work – you have a huge fandom! – Huge Fan!

Dear Huge: It’s as if the term “Action Line” creates this aura, this expectation, that some sort of “action” will be taken to actually help readers solve myriad issues. How about that. Does everyone think Action Line is here to do their dirty work?

Preposterous!

Action Line is just here to have fun, perhaps toy with people’s emotions, and try, try, try to be entertaining – sometimes falling miserably short.

But take action?

Pffftttt!!

Let’s point out the great lengths Action Line goes to in order to NOT embarrass readers. For instance, in this question, Huge Fan actually wrote “misspilled,” like there was coffee dribbling down his or her shirt. But Action Line, without making any fuss whatsoever, corrected it to “misspelled” so Huge Fan would NOT be embarrassed. How’s that for pure, humble chivalry?

To answer the question, Action Line contacted former Action Line alumni. All except one (whom no one can recall by name) still live in Durango, which is weird, isn’t it?

Huge Fan is probably picturing a hotline, with a reporter’s hand poised over the land line’s handset, anticipating a ring. There’s a tad of truth to that. Shirena Trujillo Long, the second-ever Action Line from 2000-01, heard Action Line was chosen “because we would get requests from letters to editors and phone calls to investigate leads that would require us to take action or to get answers.”

So, has Action Line ever taken action? Maybe there was one time many years ago, when either Trujillo Long or Megan Graham or Mike Smedley or Tom Sluis was doing this, that Action Line solved an issue. But that was a fluke.

Ha! We kid! Recently, just off the top of the head:

Remember the left-hand turn sign at north City Market? The rough spot on the Animas River Trail where it crossed the railroad tracks? Both fixed because of Action Line. We could list oodles more examples, but there’s just not room.

And we could come up with a new, perhaps more accurate name. Self-Appointed Answer Hack. Herald Know-It-All. Snappy Rejoinders. Reactionary Line. But for now it will remain: Action Line, Your Humble Servant.

Tunnel under Riverview

Last week, Action Line wrote about the tunnel that was dug with great effort and expense in the 1980s from Folsom Park under Riverview to the Animas River, in order to drain a pond in the park. A short, to-the-point response from a guy named Dave:

“I worked on that project and yes it was horrible and very dangerous.”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Maybe you figured this out a long time ago, but Action Line does not qualify under “most photographers.”

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