Heh. You think these prices are high? Just wait. You’ll see.
It’s easy for me; I stopped driving soon after I moved close to the Beltway. It wasn’t really by choice, though at least the government didn’t force me; it’s a safety measure more than anything. I figured that if I still had a license, some emergency would arise and I’d need to get behind the wheel for whatever reason, and after that it would only be a matter of a very brief amount of time before my Maine driving habits got me killed.
You see, I was brought up to do things like use my turn signal well in advance, to slow a bit early for traffic lights, and to leave a safe braking distance between myself and the vehicle in front of me; and it turns out that, here in Lobbyist Land, people take all this as a sign of weakness and pass continually to get into that space whether there’s room to the side of me or not. And, while killing off aggressive D.C. lobbyists and litigators in traffic accidents can be considered a public service, the risk to myself became not inconsiderable, which compelled me to make the change.
And so it’s relatively easy for me to predict gas topping ten bucks a gallon — not that I have a better perspective on such things, but rather that I don’t feel the pain in my wallet in quite the same way. Sure, my grocery delivery will cost a bit more, and if I do have to go someplace the Uber will be pricey. This is why, for some years, I’ve maintained a stockpile of canned goods, dried beans, and pallets of ramen noodles — to help see me through the tough times, which arrived precisely on schedule.
For the other problem, well, that’s why books were invented in the first place, for people who can’t leave the house. Except now it won’t be the deep snow that keeps me bound indoors, but rather the prohibitive cost associated with socializing. What makes it easier is that, with all the global warming going on, it’s ninety degrees out from now until late August, at which time it actually heats up. And, unlike Hell (or so we’re told), it’s very much not a dry heat in these parts.
Air conditioning is an expense that rises with gas prices, which is yet another reason I became a writer. The best time to write is when it’s cool, from just past one in the morning until traffic starts to move on the commuter highway that runs just outside my bedroom window. One might think that the noise of the morning commute would keep me awake, but… The thing is, it’s a very different experiencing traffic jams from being in them as opposed to while being in bed. If I were driving, I’d be sitting there gripping the wheel tightly and grinding my teeth, swearing at the other drivers and so on. But I’m not, and that makes all the difference; I hear the honking of horns and the screech of brakes and twisted metal, and I smile quietly to myself and roll over. I haven’t slept so well in years.
But I digress, which even at twelve cents a word doesn’t pay nearly as well as it once did. It used to be that a single five hundred word piece would buy me coffee every day for a week; today, it’s a single venti with a stale scone (after taxes — fortunately, cream and sugar are still free or starvation would become a real danger). I certainly couldn’t fill my gas tank, and that’s yet another reason I’m grateful I don’t have to.
Ah, but I see I’m over the word limit already, and I haven’t even explained why I think your price at the pump will keep going up or, for that matter, why it’s probably a good thing. Not for you, of course; not for anyone who has to commute, but for society in general.
Environmental scientists are in fairly uniform agreement that, in order to prevent the upcoming global climate catastrophe — well, no, it’s too late for that; the word they’re using now is “ameliorate”, which as I understand it is the difference between Category 5 hurricanes twice a week and Washington D.C. being wiped completely off the map — we’re all going to have to stop driving to work, flying anyplace at all (apart from climate conferences), and using air conditioning. It’s simple math; the higher gas gets, the more of us will start biking to work, and that’s just in the short term. Long term, the more sensible companies (at least, the ones where the C.E.O. actually has an office in the building) will start moving inland, away from those low-lying areas where the words “storm surge” convey such worrisome images.
That’s really why I’m not worried about high prices. Over time these things even out, and the reason for that is indisputable: Corporations, which most of us work for, are greedy buggers. They’re rapacious, and they detest unnecessary expense (like rebuilding Headquarters) — but they do need to employ people to do the work for them. It’s going to get more and more costly to do this in a dense urban environment, and so eventually they will absolutely insist on cheap public transportation, low apartment rents, and so on. And, since politicians cost less than raises, they’ll get what they want. Eventually.
So think positive, people: Everything will adjust itself, and it shouldn’t take very long now that gas is nearing the big one-oh. Plus, if we’re very very lucky and keep up the good work, and if the scientists are right, Washington D.C. is about to get wiped off the map.
And that ain’t nothing.
Want to know what gas cost the year you were born? Click the link! Don’t forget it’s three months out of date, so add 10% to account for inflation. Thanks to Cheri for the link!