Column: How high is the price of gas?

The price of gasoline has shot up again,
as you've no doubt noticed. How high is it? It's so high that when you
buy 10 or more gallons atGas station
some gas stations, they give you a free box of tissues. 

It's so high that some Americans, feeling the squeeze on their finances, are filling up less often, surviving on just
four meals a day. "My car can't do without gas," one Cleveland man
said, "but I can do without my midnight Whopper."

It's
so high that a retired farmer in Montana, who enjoys traveling in his
Oldsmobile, has hooked a pair of cows to the front bumper. "Forget the
gas station," he said. "Now when I need a fill up, I pull up to the
grass station."

It's so
high that one man in Chicago has gone to the extent of — you won't
believe this — walking to work. "I used to drive," the motel manager
said, "but with the price of gas so high, my wife said to me, 'Why
don't you try walking across the parking lot?'"

It's
so high that some drivers are trying to increase fuel efficiency by
carrying less weight in their cars, making sure they have no passengers. "I'm
getting five more miles per gallon!" a New York man said. "Who cares if
my children have stopped talking to me?"



It’s so high that a few motorists
are trying to improve gas mileage by driving a little slower and
applying their brakes only when absolutely necessary, such as when
Victoria Beckham is on a billboard. “My Land Rover is giving me two
more miles per gallon,” a Dallas woman said. “It’s definitely a wise
strategy, even if I have to keep driving around McDonald’s until they
have my food ready.”

It’s
so high that some drivers in Detroit are turning their engines off when
going downhill and turning them back on when climbing out of the
pothole. “I always take the shortest route to work these days,” one
driver said. “Only an idiot would drive around the potholes.”

It’s
so high that a Baltimore woman uses her Blackberry to compare prices at
various gas stations, managing to save seven cents per gallon just by
driving to Miami. “I called in sick to work,” she said. “I didn’t lie
to my boss. I just said I’ve got lots of gas.”

It’s
so high that gas theft is on the rise, forcing some stations to take
down their “pump and go” signs. “My neighbor siphoned gas from me three
times,” one Atlanta man said. “That’s when I decided it was time to lock up the
lawn mower.”

It’s so high
that a full tank of gas is all it takes to pick up a woman in West
Virginia. “I dumped my husband on our wedding night,” one woman said.
“Like most guys, he ran out of gas.”

It’s
so high that oil company executives are in a quandary, trying to decide
how many vacation homes to buy. “I’d like them all to be close to the
beach, so I don’t have to drive,” one executive said. “Have you seen
the price of gas?”


Illustration adapted from a photo by Zesmeralda

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. michelo says:

    Nice post. I suggest we have a training program for US drivers in zambia so that they learn driving using the zambian gear(nuetral/engine off when the car has gained enough momentum to push it a few mitres). It works here and i think america can outsource this innovation.

  2. I can’t believe that USD 4 per gallon petrol is bankrupting you Americans. Here in India, we have been paying USD 5 per gallon for ages. With the upcoming Tata Nano, we’ll do even better. It really pays to live in a country where the dimensions of one’s procreative paraphernalia is not represented by one’s choices of personal motorized transport.
    (Via email)

  3. @michelo – You are paying $5 per gallon in India and getting away with it because you do not need to use your car for everything. You also have buses, trains, autos and other assorted modes of transport to get you to your grocery shop, movie theatre, work or to your friend’s house. Here in many towns (outside big cities) there are often no buses at all on weekends because there are not enough people to make all routes profitable. Outside the city, you are required to travel anywhere from 4 miles to 30 miles to have any sort of life. If you are thinking about bikes, you can forget driving in the winter’s bitter cold or among vehicles traveling at speed in the highways that will even make your car sway as they fly by. In India a car is still a luxury, here a car is such a necessity that even poor immigrants have to buy a second hand lemon and they are making laws for even illegal immigrants to get a driver’s license.

  4. sanjeev says:

    In fact, prices have increased again and the press is again having a field day reporting, “oh yes its another record breaker, we have had increases and record breaking gasoline oil prices for the last 29 days.” It seems that the increase in supply has prompted the hyena’s to rise again as t is clearly not a supply and demand issue. CNN reported yesterday 41% increases in gasoline prices in India, where people became violent in their protests, as is the case with their voice.
    In the arena of geo-politics this may be an oversimplification, but are we not protecting OPEC countries from being overrun by theocratic zealots and therefore proving a service. If indeed we are providing a service should there not be some type of consideration for us protecting their way of life instead of repeatedly gouging profits from the protectors. I believe its a Chicago and New York historical point for a protection racket, but the protectors generally benefit greater than those being protected. In this case if we were not there to protect these billions then the Mullah’s and other religious zealots would be taking benefit from the monies that these people are hoarding. I know its an oversimplification, but as OKham’s Razor mandates, its often the simplest solution that is the correct one. These cultures, my own included, relate more to the Hammurabic ideals of like for like. What would they do if we withdrew? How would they feel if their luxurious lifestyle were replaced with a 14th century idealogy.
    We need to be stronger on the people who are gouging us and not enable them. Make public their earnings, make them show where the bottom line is with these “years of investment deficit that they claim” that somehow make this gouging Okay. I still believe that lying to Congress and the Senate or obstructing a question is still punishable by law. “I don’t know how much money I make????” what kind of answer is that for an educated person in the leadership role of a multi-billion dollar corporation. There is not a single person in the world who cannot tell you what they make ( from the laborer who does not speak English and cannot add more than two numbers together to our government representatives).
    DO this everywhere so that we can be free!

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