Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cushioning the blow where I have some control still ... .

After driving around with my oil gauge light screaming "empty!" for awhile, I pulled into a service station with an available pump. I hadn't noticed before today that gas stations were suddenly crowded with lengthening waiting lines. But then it occurred to me. All these SUVs were having to fill up far more often since few could afford to "fill 'er up!" any longer. My last full tank totaled an outrageous $53.92, and my little car only holds about 12 gallons. Regular now demands a whopping $4.49 a gallon where I live. Preposterous! Who could possibly afford such costs except maybe those with Hedge Fund shares in their portfolios?

My office is a mere five miles from my apartment, so I can probably manage for a bit, but what of those who commute long distances; a common problem here in the San Francisco Bay Area? Where I live public transportation is not a viable option. What with bridge tolls (now $4) and parking (crazy!) fees, few can afford the trip to the job to earn the salaries to pay for the costs of being employed! Now what?

So -- I'm sure that my solution is much like that of my neighbors. I'm not allowing my tank to get below half-full and therefore I'm joining the others in line at the services stations twice as often as before and wondering if the cost of starting and stopping in that line; of idling with the motor running isn't using up even more petroleum and wasting more energy while befouling the air quality even more seriously than before ... while I'm going nowhere? (An apt metaphor, right?)

It's awful to be of an age that remembers when gas was 27 cents a gallon; when I remained seated in the driver's seat while young men handled pumping petroleum into the gas tank; while another washed and squeegeed my windshield and back window; and where I was presented with free dishes for patronizing their independently-owned service stations which provided jobs for neighborhood kids. What in heaven's name happened in the name of progress?

Am I sounding old or what...?

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