May 9, 2008

First Person:

GETTING PUNKED AT THE PUMP

By Al Carlos Hernandez

I’ve been obsessed lately over increasing gas prices. When I leave the house in the morning the local service station is at one price, coming home later based on CNN news management, the price has gone up a few cents, and this gets me incensed. Never thought I would live to see 4 bucks plus a gallon, it may hit 5 and that’s no jive.

I’m not Mr. Math, but I know Umberto or Magali at the local Shell station can’t process the numbers that quickly when someone rattles a saber in Iran and the price of a barrel of oil goes up a dollar. Homie must get tired running up and down the ladder.

Gas prices used to change week to week now it is hour to hour. The Oil companies are complicit in price gouging and it is the working people who suffer the brunt of price fixing. I know when I’m being played and don’t like it.

Oil companies are clocking multibillion dollar 1st quarter profits, I’m not a bio-tech guy but that is a lot of cabbage.

Liberals harp on the fact that we are too dependant on oil, we should be more fuel efficient, and they are right, but, they can afford a couple of 25 thousand dollar Hybrids while most broke folks roll paid off Hyundai’s and Hoopties.

One of my sons, who did roadside assistance, said that the electric cars are always having trouble with keeping their battery’s charged and break down alot. Ironically, they send a huge tow truck or SUV to rescue them.

My wife has been concerned with me over the last few weeks; every time I call her, I’m at a different car lot trying to trade in my Luxury SUV, for something more fuel efficient.

The car dealers know that if what you are trying to trade in is a gas hog, they will try to pay you pennies on the dollar, and the Kelly Blue book is out the window. They now go onto an auto auction website and check what the market for your vehicle could bring at auction then offer you that price; that’s how a 50 thousand dollar rig can be worth 4 thousand dollars in four years. I notice a pattern here with the sub prime meltdown, what working folks buy for a lot now is worth very little.

With pencil in hand I have since done the math and this time wrote it down, and figured that gas at 4 bucks a gallon costs me an extra 25 bucks a week 100 bucks a month and that isn’t going to kill my budget. If it does, the problem isn’t fuel cost; the problem lays in my inability to make good career choices, secure a good literary agent and or producer.

The media tries to make you feel guilty for being fuelish, but they forget that they inspired several generations of car lovers, of whom my Homies and I could be kings. For many Americans who don’t wear Birkenstock sandals to work, a car speaks to a certain identity, and I said it, status symbol. We, especially in California, live in a car culture, our ride is home away from home, we expect the freedom to come and go as we please, where we please, when we please.

I’m sure the same this is true in other cultures where you would be ridiculed because your Camel only has one hump, your Donkey has big lips, your Elephant has a lazy eye, or your horse is chronically incontinent. If your prime mode of transportation is by Ostrich don’t plan on wearing glasses or expect anything to stay in your pockets by the time you get back to the hut.

I have limited travel by making a concerted effort not to visit relatives and try to plan my trips more carefully doing several stops along the way, but I’m still clocking 100 bucks a week.

My cruising is limited to wind therapy road ripping rides on my motorcycles, but I still feel the freedom to come and go wherever and whenever I please, and that’s important to me. It’s too bad that on a bike you can only ride one person at a time. I’m sure the Ostrich jockeys will feel me on this.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”.

Albert Einstein

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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