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.