March 22 ē 04:20 AM

Gas price spike muffles voices of protest

May 23, 2007
It's Tuesday. Around here that means a couple of things: 1. Chained to desk. 2. Make it happen. It means pedal faster than you did on Monday and don't Fall Down and since I'm chained to my desk I'm glad that I don't have to drive anywhere because it just so happens it's the big 'Gas Out' or 'Pump Out' day where everyone is supposed to not buy gas to protest the outrageous prices and realistically since I never fill my gas tank up if I had to drive anywhere I'd be forced to get gas so this way I'm off the hook and taking part in the grass roots effort to just say no to the oil companies because as always I feel like I want to participate in any form of nonviolent protest I believe in regardless of its affect because it's at least doing something and not being helpless and silent and pathetic and part of the problem and all that other hippie chick stuff.

So Maria and Tom and Suz and Randy and Cathy and Jen and Linda and I sit and toil and do not expend even one ounce of gasoline throughout the entire day since nothing happens that we have to drive to to take photos of which is a good thing because that means no accidents no fires no tragedies beyond the one in all of our wallets as gas prices hover around the $3.30 mark.

When I first hear about the Gas Out day intellectually I realize the effort won't really make any difference because in all the years each of us have done stories about gas prices the answers are always the same—refinery fires-supply-and-demand-unrest-in-the-middle-east-OPEC-production-limits-tanker-accidents-oil-spills-equipment-problems-broken fingernail-blahblahblahblah and so on so pretty soon I realize that it is something that can't be made sense of and remember that we live in a free enterprise capitalist society where companies are profit-driven just like the rest of us and everyone is entitled to make money to better their lives even though hearing the record profit numbers from Exxon and whatnot feels bad like the whole thing's off kilter and wrong and abusive and all at the little guy's expense and I think about Michael Douglas and Falling Down and think I get his character and it scares me and feels weird 'cause I'm not at all like that but maybe I secretly am because sometimes you just have enough.

I'm thinking about the husband and wife at the corner Marathon and the guy across the street where I buy gas and Louie at Parsch's and Habib at the Mobil on M-53 and Dryden and how they too are in business to make a buck to feed their families and live and all that just like me and I wonder how they're doing with the Gas Out day because I do not see too many cars across the street the few times I get up and go outside so I figure a lot of people are trying not to buy gas today because I usually see a lot more cars at the pumps at any given time.

And I know it's nothing personal and the local stations have to be competitive and they're not making tons of money on every gallon and today they're not making any money at all and that's not very neighborly and I definitely know the big wigs at the oil companies know about Gas Out day because that schmoozy Diane Sawyer who gets so on my nerves was interviewing one of them this morning seeking those answers that aren't really answers previously outlined and the guy's saying refinery fires and refineries off-line and supply and demand blahblahblah and he's more or less saying the Gas Out won't have anything to do with anything even though crude oil is seven bucks less a barrel right now than it was at this time last year but we're paying way more than ever in fact a record sum for a gallon of gas so the circle keeps spiraling right down into our wallets and Gas Out day is our way of saying we've had enough and believe maybe someone will listen.

So the work day's over finally and Tommy Boy and I are going to get a bite to eat a glass of wine for me and we head over to The L to unwind before he has to go to an evening meeting and I have to put my chickens and ducks in and I drive by a gas station on the way there and I don't believe what I'm seeing $3.43 for regular unleaded gasoline and I'm delirious from the workday so I think I don't see it right and Tommy Boy walks in and says 'do you see what happened?' and I say 'I thought I made a mistake' and Devon the bartender says 'no, it's not a mistake my husband and I are now spending $1,000 a month on gas just to get back and forth to our jobs' and Tommy Boy and I say it's ironic that on the so-called Gas Out day prices leapt higher than ever almost like a slap in the face like a dis that really hurts like a 'see, you don't matter one bit,' and 'hahahaha now we'll really put the squeeze on,' and the next day I'm taking my last ten bucks and putting it in the gas tank and the needle barely moves and it's just another day and there's nothing I can do about it short of pulling out my ancient ten-speed and getting up a couple of hours early to get to work and pedal fast enough to keep from Falling Down.

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