PJ Cooper left his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at six in the morning on Tuesday, hoping to beat his neighbors to a local gas station. When he arrived he was shocked to see a line of more than a hundred people, many of whom had waited in line overnight in the bitter cold.
Gasoline has become increasingly scarce in recent months, which many blame on the ongoing unrest in the Middle East that began last year. Cooper remembers a time when gas was cheaper than a gallon of milk, but now the 23 year old pays a hundred dollars for five gallons of gas.
Some Americans avoid the lines by purchasing gas from dealers on the street. Marked up by as much as 30 dollars a gallon, it's sometimes the only way to get gas when you need it. Many dealers aren't interested in dollars either - they're trading for medicine, fresh or canned food and even weapons and ammunition. Although local authorities have tried to stamp out the practice, setting up a black market gas dealership is as simple as plastic can and a 25 dollar bribe at the right time.