I'm almost at the breaking point over the gas prices we've been seeing recently. I remember a few years ago getting gas for 80 cents a gallon in Atlanta. It'd typically take, at the most, around $12 to fill up my Celica completely. Now it costs around $20, which is absolutely ridiculous.
Thanks to these astronomically high prices, I have the pleasure of experiencing three distinct emotional stages while pumping gas.
The first is sticker shock, which is pretty self-explanatory. Lately I've tried to avoid getting gas until the absolute last minute in the hope that prices will go down. This is a real bonehead move, though, as prices have been continuously increasing for months. As a result, I've been running on empty for weeks now. Is there a record for the most consecutive days with the gas meter on "E"? If so, I'm positive I've broken it by now.
The second stage is complete and utter sadness. As I said, I'm used to filling my tank for $12 tops. Now I'm paying around $20. That's $8 I could have spent somewhere else. I mean, $8 buys you a new pair of Velcro shoes at Wal-Mart, several days' worth of groceries, or one meal at Zaxby's. I'm devastated here.
The third and final stage is hilarity. Nothing brightens my day quite like glancing over at a guy putting the finishing touches on filling up his hulking SUV, with the meter reading something like $50. At what point does spending this much on gas become OK?
Of course, then it dawns on me that I'm actually snickering in delight at the fact that I only dropped a mere $20 to fill up my ride. Sigh.
I was reading an article the other day reporting a decline in SUV sales and a boost in economy car sales. This was good news that helped maintain the microscopic amount of faith I have in the American public.
So who, or what, is to blame for these high prices? Well my first and probably most correct thought is the war in Iraq. I don't think it's a coincidence that my wallet started blowing up about the same time as Baghdad.
But then there are those who say either the gas companies or OPEC are to blame. It's probably a little bit of everyone. Americans love to drive, and they love their big cars. When OPEC says that demand for gas is still high despite the ridiculous prices, well, you can understand why they don't lower them. And as we get into summer, when Americans traditionally drive more, prices are going to go up even more.
But I'm a typical American, and I'm planning on driving more this summer than I have ever before. I don't really have a choice but to deal with it.
Gasoline, like politics, is a necessary evil. Just don't ever try to mix the two, especially in an election year. You could get burned.