Like many Americans, Ronnie Short is feeling the pain at the gas pump.
So the Kent woman found some immediate relief early Friday morning by taking advantage of a rare gas giveaway at the Auburn Way South Safeway Fuel Center.
Short committed herself to a long line at 7 a.m. was the last of the 200 non-commerical motorists who were eligible to receive 10 free gallons of unleaded or diesel gasoline, compliments of the Washington State Lottery.
Safeway and the State Lottery officials have been conducting the free gas giveaway at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend for three years now. Auburn was one of only three sites in the state doing the promotion. Spokane and Kennewick were the others.
Short was babysitting at her East Hill home when she decided to try her luck at the pump. She made the same trip before the holiday weekend two years and was rewarded.
“I’m surprised I made it, actually,” she said while pumping in the fuel, at $3.83 a gallon, into her Dodge Ram truck. The cost to her was nearly two hours of waiting in line and the purchase of a $10 Mega Millions Quick Pick ticket at the station.
“I put gas in my truck the other day, but I wanted to fill it up,” she added. “I’m glad I did.”
Soaring gas prices are raising fears and concerns from American motorists. State Lottery officials wanted to promote its own cause by helping out.
“Gas prices are over the top right now, so we decided to give customers a smile when they buy Mega Millions,” said Christopher Liu, director of Washington’s Lottery.
According to Jacque Coe, Lottery communications director, the gas giveaway went well. Supported by the Auburn Police Department, Coe and co-workers arrived at the station early to orchestrate the traffic and reduce tensions.
“It’s a good promotion and people seem to like it,” Coe said. “Unfortunately, gas prices are $4 a gallon and above. … The gas prices definitely have increased awareness, and people were well aware of (the promotion).”
One man camped out in his vehicle the night before. Cars started to arrive by 3 a.m. The parking lot was filled by 4:30, well ahead of the gas giveaway’s official 6 a.m. start.
The promotion was held in coordination with Friday’s Mega Millions drawing.