Saturday, April 19, 2008

Three "FUCK!"s A Gallon

HOW SAD IS IT THAT all of my recent financial windfalls get grouped, in my mental budget, in the "use this to pay for gasoline" category?

In appreciation of the work that we did getting the last published issue of the magazine out under heavy fire, my managing editor gave me and the artist a $50 money card. In principle, I could use it in Las Vegas, spend it on some decent vacation clothing, dedicate it toward a digital camera — anything.

In practice, my first thought was, "I can actually fill up my car's gas tank!" rather than taking $20 sips each week to spread the Pain across multiple visits.

Same thing today, when I lugged a milk bottle full of small change (the quarters are reserved for laundry) to the bank. The $56.25 this yielded? Sure, I could drop it in my emergency fund. I could consider it found money and go nuts at a fairly decent restaurant. I could add it to my poker bankroll ahead of the hold'em binge in Sin City. Or just split it down the middle for Mother's and Father's Day gifts come those two holidays.

Nope. The trek to the bank took me past my local "cheap" gas station. There, I will have the pleasure, at my next fill, of being keistered for $3.24 for each gallon I buy, which will top out at about six gallons for the usual double-sawbuck sip. I can only imagine the $56 will go into my tank in part or full. (The quarter I'm still saving for the damn wash.)

I feel like fuckin' Mad Max crossing post–nuclear holocaust Australia, searching wrecked vehicles along the dusty Outback highways for traces of the precious juice. Only this isn't a sunbeaten dead continent I'm inhabiting; this is the last remaining superpower . . . granted, a superpower with track marks up and down its arms from skin-popping Chinese money and Wah'habist oil, but still, more or less the scuffed hulk of what we used to consider the primus inter pares of the First World.

If I'd have known, pre-$3/gallon, that gas would continue to spike, I'd have bought a clutch of gas cans, filled them while gas was "cheap," then lined them up in my parents' garage. If airlines and delivery services can hedge against commodity speculators dry-humping the cost oil, so can I. Ideally, I'd make like an Eighties-style apocalypse cult and build my own massive underground tanks, but I think you need a few thousand follower-zombies to help fund such an endeavor. I'm lucky if I can get dogs to come near me. And they don't carry cash.


Amy said...

Now that I don't drive all that often, when I do fill up, it's like "Whaaaaaaat??" (a la Chris Griffin). The cost is insane. I remember vividly when gas went up to $.99 a gallon and my father was freaking out. Sure, I was young, but come on!! When I think of the extra costs of food, gas, and medical expenses these days, it's a wonder I can even afford new shoes!! (Did I say that??) No, seriously. It sucks.

Schizohedron said...

I'm glad my commute is short. Although it's all local streets, which I suppose dings my fuel efficiency. Now's the time I wish my workplace was the same locale as our first mutual office. I could walk there!!

I was actually thinking of the Seventies gas rationing yesterday; I'd seen an American flag at a gas station and recalled how a red flag indicated during that period that the station flying it had run dry. I remember keeping one of my parents company in the car while he or she waited in a gas line that stretched down the block like a summer car wash queue.

At least with shoes, you can buy something made from leather and wood with little reliance on petrochemicals, and therefore less of a pass-on cost. With food we're boned; the ethanol push hits us doubly hard. Remind me to inherit 1,000 acres in Iowa in the next life.

Shit, with some land — or at least a balcony — I could at least grow some of my own food. As for driving more cheaply, well, someone had parked one of these at Barnes & Noble and it drew an admiring crowd. I imagine an encounter with an SUV, however, would result in a piƱata-like scattering of components and occupants.

Dave said...

If gas is gonna keep on at these prices the powers that be could at least have the freaking common decency to give us all the Car Wars stuff that's supposed to go along with it. I liked my VMGs!

Schizohedron said...

If I can't have my flying car, I want my heavily armed and armored electric one.

I had a nicely tricked-out Security Seven van for several duels (which is about 12 years in Car Wars time). All it lacked was the armored beer fridge. Would've been worth jettisoning the gunner's spaces in the design.

Schizohedron said...

UPDATE: Oh, how quaint this post looks on Memorial Day 2008, with the cheap gas now cresting $3.75/gal. My gas-hoarding scheme is looking a lot less Kramden-crazy now.