Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What were once vices are now habits

Last Thursday, as billions in paper wealth were melting down and evaporating (watch out for that hole in the ozone layer!), I bought gas at one of my local branded-gasoline stations and felt as if I were getting a crazy steal by paying only $3.55.9 a gallon for regular. I've never understood the point nine jazz--we buy NOTHING else that I know about in monetary increments like this, except fossil fuel. The only other item that sort of reckons in fractions, is, I believe, Ivory Snow bar soap ("99 and 44/100ths% pure" ) unlike Natalie Wood but much like Sandra Bullock, it also floats.

I did the division I do every time I buy gas, by dividing the gallons purchased into the miles driven and then I enter that number into my notebook to track my gas mileage (I am so anal, I know; but it's a hobby that harms no one). The numbers on my Forester differ from the numbers the manufacturer uses from the EPA tests, but I like mine better because they are real in the sense they reflect how I drive on a tankful of gasoline as opposed to that 'city/highway' split the advertising always talks about.

I don't suppose you'll be surprised to discover I save the gas pump receipts, in order (of course) and store them next to the notebook. Here's what I found sobering as I struggled to pull the handbrake on the euphoria I was feeling as I drove away from the pump. On the the ninth of October 2007 , I had also purchased regular gasoline and had paid $2.79.9 a gallon but doubt very highly I felt like dancing when I did so at that time. Talk about harshing my buzz.

What changed in a year? The frame of reference. In a larger sense, the scale of life grew beyond my ability to maintain it in perspective. Imagine how I felt this past Saturday when I bought gas at twenty cents a gallon less than I had previously in the week only to learn from my daughter who stopped in the same station in the late afternoon that she had paid six cents a gallon less than I had that very same day.

Suddenly Big Oil isn't a terrible monopoly anymore making unconscionable profits from the labor of hard-working and freedom loving Americans. As it turns out, give us what we see as cheap gas and we'll follow you anywhere, even over the cliff. That T. Boone Pickens guy can take his energy self-sufficiency plan and stick it where the oil derricks don't pump (I'm kidding-go back and click the link and get involved!). Another couple of days and we'll be having a Gas Station Owners and Operators' Appreciation Day with parades and floats, assuming any of us have any money worth anything to pay for it all. We're becoming the Weimar Republic and you can look up what happened after that party ran out of ballons.
Ein Reich, Ein Volk, und autofenster saubern with every fill-up.
-bill kenny


Eel Roy said...

Not sure if it's perspective or persistence of vision, but I'm sure one of them applies. Think I'll put a Post-It on the dash to remind me of the oil ompany profits back in the good old days.

dweeb said...

I had a colleague years ago who had a sign on her desk that read "I am now starving to death on the salary I once dreamed of making."

When I was a slip of a lad my father gave me as advice 'never pay more than 20,000 dollars for a house without a basement.'
That would mean I could have never purchased the car I drive today.

You're right, everything is relative. Speaking of which I need to shake the family tree and hope someone walthy one falls out. Maybe I can interest them in an adoption?