By Ellen Babin

WesCom Wire Service

BROOKINGS - The people who pump gas at Brookings-Harbor gas stations wish they could change the price of . Instead, they grin and take the jokes, questions and, often, the abuse from customers.

As gas prices nationwide continue to rise toward the $3 mark - the average price for unleaded fuel in Brookings is $2.79 - many customers have found a new villain: the greedy gas attendants.

That is simply not true, according to many gas attendants, including Adam Ashworth, who works for the Shell station south of Brookings.

The customers, Ashworth said, often think the station employees have something to do with the prices, andquot;which we obviously do not.andquot;

Allen Rogers, who works at the Chevron station in Harbor and the Exxon station in Brookings, said that as gas prices rise, people get angrier. He said that all his customers comment on the price of gas andquot;but we (the attendants) aren't getting any of the money.andquot;

Lynzie Johnson, who worked as a andquot;gas jockeyandquot; before becoming cashier at the Chevron station, found that when prices started to skyrocket, people were complaining and asking about the increase.

andquot;A few people were really irate,andquot; she said. andquot;It's not us raising the prices.andquot;

Some people are happy to pay Oregon's gas prices - particularly those who live 30 miles away in Crescent City. Many of those residents drive to the Shell gas station, the first Oregon station north of the border. Unlike Oregon, California gas pumps are self-serve and the prices in Crescent City are 20 cents to 30 cents higher than in Brookings or Harbor.

andquot;Prices are way higher in California,andquot; said Kendra Osborn, a cashier at the Shell station. Many more cars with California license plates are showing up at Shell, she said.

People also bring in cans to be filled in an attempt to save money. That is the case for all the stations located in Brookings-Harbor. Not one of the stations reported a remarkable increase or decrease in the number of RV owners topping the tank on their gas-guzzling vehicles.

As for abuse, andquot;People express themselves in ways that reflect the high price of gas; they are more than rude sometimes,andquot; said Chevron employee Rogers.

Chevron attendant Stacey Reneman takes the negative comments in stride. After five months working at Chevron, Reneman said she has come to believes that people have to take their frustration out on someone.

An Exxon employee who did not want to be identified said she has received few negative comments since beginning the job at the Brookings station nearly two months ago. She puts up with people's remarks because, she said, andquot;It's hard to find a full-time job in this town.andquot;

Cashier Patty Evanow, of the 76 station in Brookings said andquot;There are usually a few wisecrackers, but no one has been abusive.andquot;

An attendant at the station said when he gets teased about the price of gas, he knows that person is joking.

andquot;I try to make everyone's day a little brighter with a smile,andquot; he said.