Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pain and peril at the pump

Today, gas was marked up to $3.99 a gallon in my city -- I just love the way the gas station owners are using that super-clever marketing trick of making us all feel that we're merely spending three bucks and a little bit of change to put some fuel in the ol' minivan.

My husband called and told me that a certain station in the city still had gas priced at $3.68 per gallon. He asked me to "do him a favor," which is a phrase that never fails to fill me with fear and loathing, because his "favors" are never easy little things like sprinkling some extra croutons on his salad at dinner. No, they're always big, hard, exasperating things that make me want to bang my head on the desk. The favor he wanted me to do today involved my getting $50 out of our checking account and going to this gas station (not the one pictured above) and filling the tank. I agreed, knowing that there was going to be nothing short of severe mental and emotional toil ahead of me, and boy, was I ever right.

The line at the gas station was backed up for about four blocks. It was backed up so far that when I came over the hill on the bridge, I would have rear-ended the last car in the line if I weren't such a careful and competent driver. I groaned aloud and called him; his opinion was that the girls and I should wait and get the gas. "I would," he said, with the subtle inference that I'm not a team player and have no sense of thrift; the type of person who would buy a pair of shoes she really liked for full retail when there was an ugly pair sitting right next to them that were marked down 60%. He knows me so well.

My opinion was that I had accidentally left both my library book and Kidnapped sitting at home on the dining room table; I had nothing to read and was therefore restive and a little huffy after only fifteen minutes of waiting. He called back to make sure I was still there; I told him I was, but that I was very unhappy about it. He encouraged me to stick it out and the girls nagged me about the money we'd be saving until I wanted to smack them both.

Finally, I found a piece of paper and a pen and did a few calculations. I may not be able to do much math, but I can do some. I figured, with my $50, that I would be able to save approximately $4.71 for sitting in that long line that was moving with all the energy and enthusiasm of a glacier. That did it for me; I peeled out of that line and headed off to do my other six or seven errands, feeling sixpence none the richer, but with a much improved outlook on life.

The girls carried on with the badgering until I told them shortly that $4.71 doesn't even buy all three of us an iced coffee from friggin' McDonald's and that the first person who said "a penny saved is a penny earned" was going to get out of the van and walk home. So they shut up.

I am really hacked off about these gas prices. If I had my way, I'd be drilling in ANWR so fast, the antlers would be spinning around on the heads of the caribou.

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