Springfield, Idaho - Vern Kashinsky held the gas pump handle patiently until it reached $19.91, then released and held a few times so that it would end on exactly $20. He then shook the nozzle while it was still in his gas tank access port three times, so as to get the last few drops of gas. It is a process that this 62 year old man has done each time since the age of 16, and one that he believes has saved him a fortune.
Vern is not alone. Throughout America, millions of people suffering from mild to severe forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder believe that their idiosyncracies are in some ways beneficial, but at least 10% specifically think that they are saving money with them. But according to a newly released study commissioned by State Farm Insurance Company, nothing could be further from the truth.
Researchers took one of the milder forms of OCD, of which Vern Kashinsky was the ideal example, and performed a rather routine cost benefit analysis on his lifetime display of such behavior. The results were only surprising to Kashinsky and his type.
"Since the age of 16, Vern had on average filled up his tank every two weeks, which is 26 times a year. After 46 years, that adds up to 1,196 times. Field research showed that when a person is through pumping, any where from zero to three drops of gas can be shaken out into the tank. Assuming the best case scenario, Vern shook three extra drops of gas into his vehicles 1,196 times for a total of 3,588 extra drops of gasoline in the course of his lifetime.", reported Dr. Klaus Kleinfeld of Creighton University. "That no doubt sounds good to him, but it neglects some quite obvious facts."
Kleinfeld is refering to the fact that there are over 90,000 drops of gasoline in a gallon of gas, and that 3,588 drops is thus a little under four percent of one gallon - in 46 years of doing this. But that wasn't the worst of it. "The average time spent on that 1-2-3, left/right/left shake was for Vern and most others studied, 1.5 seconds.", reported Kleinfeld, "1.5 seconds times the 1,196 times he did this over that 46 year period adds up to 29 minutes 54 seconds total. Assuming that Vern's time is worth at least minimum wage, he - and the others - have invested about $4 of their time for a lifetime return of twelve cents of gas - assuming a cost per gallon of three dollars."
As Kleinfeld and other researchers have pointed out, this is a massive investment of time for staggeringly little in return. As they well know, as their research methods were meticulous. "We used an eye dropper to determine the exact amount of drops in one gallon of water, which was 90,804, but then tested several different grades of gasoline to come up with a representative sampling. We had 13 grad student volunteers work on that alone. We also videotaped and timed 317 different men and women from all walks of life from coast to coast to come up with the average time for pump shaking. Volumes of records and datas on the price of labor versus cost of gasoline from 1963 to 2009 was also done by a private research firm we contracted out to.", related Kleinfeld, "But it was worth it."
Though as an Idaho man recently pointed out to his wife, "Yeah, he invested 232 man-hours in researchers and subjects to come out with a study that did no one any material good, and increased his salary by zero dollars, he being already tenured."