Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Price of Gas

I need a preamble. I always need a preamble. I'm a preambler. Because of the nature of my work, I am rarely in one place for any legnth of time, and rarely near a phone. My morning schedule sort of goes like this: Drop kids off, home, get ready for the gym, go to the gym, change, do what I do at the gym, get ready for work, drive to work, go to the office, photocopier whatever I need to do to get prepared for class, then go to class, and then go home. Apart from that small window of time when I see the departamental secretaries (near the photocopiers), I am pretty much a free agent. This makes me all rather neurotic when my husband is away for 6 weeks. Usually if the school needs to call one of us, they call him - he is closest. Anyway...I asked for a cell phone just so I could rest assured that yes, the school could get ahold of me if Aidan ran away or Harry was so sick that I needed to pick him up. So now I have a cellphone. And that means that Eric has been text messaging me messages just for the sake of text messaging. And today my sister called me in the middle of class.

It was okay, really. Note to self: I need to share my teaching schedule. So I called her back when it was convenient. She advised me to buy gas because it was going to be hiked up to $2.08 a L tomorrow. Currently it is selling at $1.11 for regular. I don't know what this translates into gallons. 2 dollars a litre is scandalous. It peaked at 150 a couple weeks ago. I think it sold at 79.9 two years ago. Anyway. Since I was on my way home, I decided, "what the heck"..I already had 3/4 of a tank ( and we drive a gas hog - a Dodge Caravan). When someone builds a fuel efficient vehicle that can safely strap in three children and all their riggings I'll be a firm supporter. Until then, I am stuck with a fuel pig. Sometimes I think the carseat- car manufacturer - oil congolmerates form an unholy trinty to force our dependance on fuel hogs. I digress.

So I arrive at my local gas bar, the one with the best coffee and friendly service (I have actually gotten free coffee merely from the cuteness of my kids) - and low and behold there is a gargantuan line-up. Like every pump had 4 cars in line. Crazy-maddness!! I figured the rumours must have been true. (I had not heard this on the news because the CBC employees are still LOCKED OUT). I pumped my 1/4 tank of gas and chatted with the other folk going about the same business. As I asked about the rumour - the so-called price hike varied from $1.75/L to $2.00 - I learned that no one had heard this from any "reliable source" - (the news). This gas frenzy was pure word of mouth. And the reason for the hike? Hurricane Rita. There were the requisite complaints in the line to pay - about the cost, and then there were the grumblings that we in Canada are oil producers - Alberta is now rolling in the John .A Macs from the burgeoning cost of oil and gas. Newfoundland is also drills for off shore oil. Why does Rita directly affect us? the irritated man in line asks.

In one way, I wallowed in the communitas - the connection our community momentarily experienced in that out of the way gasbar in Nowwherespecial Eastern Canada.

Later, at home, I saw The ATV news. In its preview, it addressed the phenom. And it claimed that these are unfounded rumours. I sat back and thought for a minute on the silliness of it all. What made me stop for gas (at 3/4 full,) - sit in a line, contentedly, thinking that I get to exploit a insiders tip. Seeing all those people in line rather proved the truth of what I was told, and waiting 10 times longer to get a 1/4 freaking tank of GAS seemed worth it. Am I really that gullible? The answer must be a resounding YES.

The interesting thing is the power of the rumour and word of mouth. And how fixated we are on the price of gas. How come we cannot get it together through word of mouth and rumour to stamp out poverty, homelessness or racism? Why do we need to demonstrate our effectiveness as a collectivity over a commodity that is worth waging war over? Over a resource that is basically ruining our planet and erroding any sense of humanity left in the masses. Why?!?!

Silliness in the streets of Canada tonight folks...

unabashed SILLINESS!


hotboy said...

It said in the news tonight here in Britain that the price of petrol (gas) was going to go through the roof in the U.S. Twice or three times. I stopped driving practically as soon as I passed my test, but I believe that would put your gas at European levels of cost. But the distances here aren't the same and we have public transport, etc. Great post! Real insight into somewhere else. You have gasbars where you can get coffee? In Australia they had off-licences which were drive in. That was weird! Hotboy p.s. Six weeks is a long time. Let's hope it flies in!

Candace said...

During/just after Hurricane Katrina, gas prices for us in the US were really, really high. Like nearly $3.00 per gallon. Don't know what that translates to.

And I expect them to be just as high this time, too.

Susan said...

I think the prices will be worse this time; refineries that were shut down after Katrina are still closed, and more will be shut down after Rita. We paid over $3.00 per gallon(I wish I could do the gallon/litre conversion, but I can't)for a while there.

And Heather--my car is about 1/3 full, and I'm kicking myself for not filling it up today. Normally I drive around until the light comes on (so responsible!) and never even think about it.

Meanwhile, one more US city is poised to be devastated. Ugh.

Mary P. said...

Why do we join forces in community in response to a threatened hike in gas prices, but not to combat poverty? Because people are selfish.

I have a theory that we are all born entirely selfish. There is no moral judgment in that, at first: it is merely survival. A baby must put his needs before all others in order to survive.

However, the process of maturing is the process of becoming less selfish: of learning that others have needs; that these needs are just as real to them as mine are to me, and just as valid; of learning, finally, that others' needs may even be more significant than my own, so that I may need to make a personal sacrifice for someone else's welfare. Lots of people never get to this last! When, additionally, that other with the greater needs is someone I've never met, whose reality is foreign, then the likelihood of real concern/action is even less.

So. People will line up at a gas pump because there's something in it, immediately, for them.

Am I a cynic? I don't think so, because it doesn't stop me from acting compassionately. I do what I can and teach my children to do the same, vote for the people I think will also try, trying to make that piece of the world over which I have any control at all a bit more compassionate and aware.

Well. An essay in human nature in response to a question about gas prices. You just never know, do you?

Mary P. said...

p.s. Oh. And I am so FED UP with the lockout. Yesterday we were in the car, listening to the Top 50 countdown from last year. I commented on this being an old show. My sweetie said, "Yes. It's all archives, all the time these days." I crave my fix. When will it END???

(And in keeping with my doctrine of unselfishness, I offered to look after the children of the CBC producer across the street for free. She didn't take me up on it, but she's getting a whopping $200/week strike pay, which does not even cover childcare! They've been told not to bring their kids to the picket lines.)