I hopped in this morning, noticed it above the halfway mark and went on my merry way to work.
So I'm zipping along 17, look down at my gas gauge and HOLY CRAP! That's _BELOW_ the E. I pull over to the right hand lane and start to get off at the exit. The car in the meantime is letting me know that the fuel/air mixture is getting increasingly lean.
Luckily for me, the exit is a bit of a downhill, so I drive on a bit, see a gas station in the distance, know I'm not going to make it, and coast into a convenient shopping center.
I get out, hoof it over to the gas station and ask to borrow a gas can. The guy behind the counter says "We don't lend gas cans. Those things are like $10." I grumble and note that there's two gas stations across the street, so I thank the guy and get a move on over there. Apparently, neither of the other two do it as well, all citing the same problem. Grumbling about the state of society, I resign myself to buying the cheapest one I noticed, get a gallon of gas, and start on my way back.
I fill the car up (with some difficulty...those gas cans desperately need to come with instructions. The nozzle is a bit elaborate, lacks markings, and they're fairly unintuitive), drive over to the cheapest of the three (thankfully, not the same one I bought the gas can at. I'd rather support n lame people a little than 1 lame person a lot), and fill my tank. So I go back in to collect my change and an idea hits me. I'd rather not have a gas can rattling around in the back of my car, so I offer to give them the gas can I bought with my hard earned $10. That way, the next poor bastard to walk in with an empty gas tank doesn't need to buy one.
Supposedly, they can't do that because they sell food, so I inquired about the locked storage cabinet outside. I get the same excuse about them storing it. I spend another 5 minutes or so beating that dead horse, then tell the guy behind the counter to fuck off, and get the hell out of Dodge. Or, at least, in my case, into my Ford.
I thought about going around to either of the other two, but noted that I was going to be an hour late into work and decided that this attempted good deed had been punished enough and zipped outta there.
Now, I know the gas stations aren't _completely_ responsible for the relatively high price, but one would think that a business would be smart about this. Lending a gas can with some sort of deposit (e.g. a drivers license, ATM card, &c) implies that they'll probably come back to your gas station to return it and fill the rest of their tank. One would think that the occasional loss of $10 wouldn't actually bother them.
Anyway, there's two good things out of all this:
1) my car has a gas can now, so I'll never deal with this again.
2) I recalled a bit from Chemistry in 10th grade when I noticed my left hand itching. I'd spilled a bit on it, so I suspected that gasoline must be slightly basic. I gave my hands a more thorough washing when I got to work and then googled the answer. Apparently the concept of acids and bases is a bit fuzzy for things like gasoline. Makes sense, since pH (the determining factor) is based on the number of dissociated hydrogen ions floating around. Good to know anyway.