Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's a Gas

My mother used to tell me about the energy crisis in the '70s. "We used to line up for blocks to get gas. It was nuts." She used to tell me this story during the boom time of the late 1990s, when gas cost less than one dollar per gallon. Gallons of bottled water cost more than gallons of gas. I babysat once a week and it was enough to fuel my Taurus for the week.
My, how times have changed.
Now that we've determined that hurricane Katrina was a huge structural and human catastrophe for the South, the rest of us are going to face the economic impact that shuttering oil refineries will have. Grab your ankles, kids, because you're about to take it at the gas pump.
Since I don't have a car and I don't pay for heat at my apartment, my first thought was that I'd escape relatively unscathed from the problems. Then the Whatever and I turned on NPR to hear the report on gas prices going up faster than a diver that saw a big, hungry shark.
"I'm going to have to start taking the bus to work," he commented.
As I looked at all the other cars careening into the city on the Jamaciaway, I thought about it. I'd have to chip in on gas for the Whatever's car since he brings me into the city most days out of the week, will bring me home to pick up a change of clothes for work, and will take me places if I ask nicely. I wondered if all the owners of the other cars were as nervous as I was. I don't mind helping him out since he helps me, but it will make a dent in our social lives if $3 a gallon actually happens.
Then I realized that T fares will go up since they need to fuel their busses. It's not as expensive as fueling a private vehicle, but still, another added expense.
Then I realized food prices will go up since shipping Pop-Tarts and Doritos will be more expensive since the companies will have to pay the elevated gas prices.
Then I realized that if the heating costs are astronomical this winter, my landlord will raise my rent next year.
Then I realized that we're all fucked.
Seriously. I think it's hard for Americans to realize that oil is not an endless resource. We're the ungrateful teenagers, and the rest of the world is all, "We're not an endless source of money for your entertainment. Why don't you fatties go for a walk and not use so much damn gas?" I don't want to turn into a stereotypical liberal Massachusetts resident, but I'd seriously consider buying a hybrid if I need a car because this shit's gonna get uglier before it gets better.
There's been talk of freeing up the oil reserves, but that won't help prices much. The problem lies in not being able to refine the oil into gasoline and heating oil, not the lack of crude oil. If it would help, I'll take a day off next week and strain some oil through some cheesecloth at home.

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