Stop Yer Bitching About Gas Prices And Change!

by Venomous Kate

Earlier this week I had to fill up my gas tank. The grand total came to $50, after which I did the now-obligatory muttering. That didn’t last long, though: it is, after all, the only time during the month of April that I’ve bought gas. That’s right: I use less than one tank per month. VH had to fill up, too. His gas tank holds less than mine so his total came to $36. That’s the second time he’s had to fill up in April, but he felt obligated to grumble, too.

Because, you see, that’s the ‘mericun thing to do these days: bitch about gas prices, even when you know you don’t necessarily have a right to bitch.

Granted, we live in a small town where most of the places we need to go — grocery store, doctor’s office, hair salon, various establishments catering to grown-ups for me; work and the golf course for VH — are within 5 miles of my home.

What really galls me, though, are the people who live in this small town along with me who still wind up spending hundreds of dollars on gas every month. And why? Because they drive into the big city (which, for us, is Kansas City) so they can go to the latest, trendiest restaurants or attend entertainment events.

In my book if you’re spending big money on gas because you’re driving places for the fun of it then you’ve got no right to bitch.

One of my neighbors pulled in to their driveway while I was in the garage vacuuming my van this evening. They’d just returned from a quick dash from home to McDonald’s and walked over to talk about an upcoming homeowners’ association meeting. As we stood there talking, my neighbor remarked that earlier in the day he’d gone to fill up his gas tank. He spent $58 (he drives an SUV) for the second time this week.

The kicker: he works in the same building that VH does… which is only 5 miles away!

I asked why he didn’t pick up McDonald’s while he was out earlier… why make two separate trips. His answer: “Well, we didn’t decide until dinner time that we felt like McDonald’s.”

This, my fellow ‘mericuns, is precisely why OPEC has us all by the nuts. We have a culture in which our fun happens at the spur of the moment. Our convenience, our leisure and recreation, and our seemingly endless need for fun is at the very heart of our problem. We want it all, and we want it now, but we also think we are entitled to have it all cheap.

We sit around our houses and decide we don’t feel like cooking, so why not hop in our cars and drive to McD’s? (It’s no coincidence that McDonald’s is the icon of our American way of life.)

We choose to live in suburbs away from inner city crime, bad schools and urban blight rather than placing ourselves (and our money) in the heart of things were we actually stand a chance of fixing them, if only by our presence and the efforts we put in to our own property. As a result we live far away from where we work yet bitch about long commutes. Then we find it too inconvenient to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work (because, after all, it’s a long commute already) so we demand 24-hour grocery stores that allow us to shop when we feel like it.

We feel like going to the movies, going shopping, going out for a drink and… we go. We don’t walk there — mostly because we felt at some point like building a progressive town or city meant establishing “entertainment districts” far away from residential areas — so we drive.

Feel like Chinese food or pizza for dinner rather than, say, spending a half-hour cooking from whatever’s on hand? Why, order it in! Never mind that your whim means someone else has to do the driving. By God, you’ll get out of cooking, won’t you?

Feel like a movie tonight because there’s nothing good on TV? Go rent one! Why should you have to pass one evening reading a book, right?

Feel like you need to exercise more? Drive to the gym. God forbid you, well, walk out of your front door and keep going for an hour or so.

We feel like doing all sorts of things… and that is our problem. We’re also feel like we should be able to do what we want, when we want it, assuming we can afford it (or can charge it to our credit cards).

And therein lies our problem: our sense of entitlement. Oh, I’m not talking about the “entitlements” like welfare, free medical coverage and all that other quasi-socialist crap. I’m talking about the sense of entitlement that even right-leaning, conservative-thinking folk have: “This is America, for God’s sake, the land of the free.”

Which means, ultimately, that we feel we ought to — as one airline puts it — feel free to roam about the country. Whenever we want. Wherever we want.

But we don’t want to pay for that freedom.

I’ll posit this to you Venomites who love to slam the liberal left for the way they feel like they’re entitled to live off the fat of our taxes: we’re no different. We’re no better. We simply have different priorities: rather than living off the money of our fellow ‘mericans’ tax dollars, we believe we’re entitled to live off the lower profits of foreign oil companies.

Since when was it American and conservative to demand ANY corporation reduce its profits, eh?

Want to save money at the gas pump? Learn to do less of what you feel like doing and more of what you know you should. Even if it’s inconvenient. Even if it sucks.

  • Walk.
  • Schedule. For those places you can’t get by walking, go there when you’re already out and about.
  • Just say no. Once you’re home for the evening, stay home for the evening. Don’t run to McDonald’s because you feel like it.
  • Plan ahead. If you need groceries, ake your grocery list with you to the office and make time on the way home from work.
  • Postpone liberally. If you forgot to run an errand don’t rush out and do it. Add in extra time the next day to do it on your way to- or from the office.
  • Slow the hell down. Sure, the speed limit sign just 20 yards past the green light says you can drive 70. Since when did free-thinking individuals pay attention to signs? Stop trying to max it out and your gas will last a lot longer. And in case you’re one of those afraid to piss (stupid) people off, get in the right lane and drive 55.
  • Put out for upkeep. With gas prices what they are it’s tempting to cheap out on other automotive maintenance like getting your oil and air-filters changed and having someone inflate your tires while calibrating the psi. Stop it already. Keeping your auto in tip-top shape — particularly your tire pressure — will help save on gas. So knock it off with the “guesstimating”.
  • Be an early bird at the pump. We all hate mornings. We’re all in a hurry to get to work. But filling your tank after the day is warm means you’re buying fumes that will eventually condense and settle into less liquid than what you actually paid for at the pump. Fill up first thing in the morning even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Schedule your refills. Gas costs more on the weekends, especially right before a long weekend. The cheapest days to fill up are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Stop trying to fight it.
  • Sell short if you must. Sure, you might be “upside down” in your gas-guzzling SUV, but depending on how much you owe and how much you drive it might be worth it to get out of that gas-guzzler and into a more fuel-efficient vehicle… even if it means looking like a nerd. After all, who’s going to look stupid in about three years: the nerds who drive fuel-efficient vehicles, or the people who can’t pay their mortgage because they spend so much money on gas just getting to and from work?
  • Shop online and combine. No, I mean it! I bought an Amazon Prime membership for $79 a couple of years ago. With that, I get free shipping to any address in the U.S., which means I don’t have to run around all over the place shopping for gifts. With their grocery service I can often order in bulk at prices cheaper than my PX, Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart. And, thanks to their subscription service, I can have many regularly-used products sent on a periodic basis which means, for instance, that right about the time I’m running out of tampons there’s a new box arriving via UPS. Now, there’s some argument to be made that it’s not saving gas if UPS delivers. My response: (1) it’s not my gas that’s being used; and (2) the more people in your neighborhood you turn on to this, the more environmentally-friendly it becomes.
  • Look for other online alternatives. “Feel” like a movie? Rent via Netflix.com. Hell, if you’ve got a good enough computer you can even watch movies when you feel like it via their immediate downloads that are free for subscribers.
  • Garden. Yes, I know this one’s bordering on tree-hugging, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in gardening. When you grow your own veggies you don’t have to think about driving to McD’s or worry about what’s for dinner: just step out back and pick something. You’d be amazed at what you can grow in a 3×6 bed or even in patio containers. I didn’t shell out one red penny for vegetables last summer. Heck, you can even grow vegetables from your apartment balcony without sacrificing floor space. And after a day spent gardening you’ll be too tired to want to go anywhere, anyway.
  • Carpool. Now, as someone who hates my fellow humans by default, this is a hard one for me. I don’t like mornings. I don’t like people who expect me to talk to them in the mornings unless I gave birth to them (and even then, they’re trained not to expect a whole lot out of me besides breakfast.) But, hey, if you can’t/won’t homeschool like we do then suck it up and make carpool friends, people.
  • Have more sex. Let’s face it: the majority of times we drive somewhere other than work or the grocery store can be attributed to sheer boredom. Bars? They’re the best solution to having nothing to talk about with your spouse. Shopping? There’s a reason why married women do that for “recreation”. And don’t get me started on the subject of why men go to strip bars or Hooter’s (where they just see stuff like this. It’s boredom, baby. And it’s nothing personal. But, hey, if you learn to last (or endure) more than 3 minutes chances are that urge to drive somewhere else (besides towards the headboard) will pass.

Sure, these things all seem counter-intuitive to our “follow your freaking rainbow” culture, but that exact way of thinking is what got us in this predicament in the first place. The very best way to keep OPEC from strangling you by reaching through your anus is to pull your head out of it so you can see what they’re up to, and how you can avoid it.

No, it might not be the “free to be you and me” way of thinking to which we’ve all become entitled… but since when did being conservative mean thinking such socialist thoughts? After all, aren’t we the political party who knows that demand drives supply? Stop demanding so freaking much and watch those prices plummet.

Do your part: inconvenience yourself and piss off the towel heads.

And realize that, until you’re willing to do so, you might as well grab some petroleum-based jelly and lube up while bending over an oil barrel, folks.

27 Responses to “Stop Yer Bitching About Gas Prices And Change!”

  1. I agree with you; living a good 20-minute or more drive from The Big City (and in a VERY SMALL TOWN with no McDonalds at all) has forced a lot of changes in our lives (besides my hubby’s commute). For one example: I have learned to cook some of our favorite restaurant recipes. Generally, we plan our weekly trips “To Town For Supplies” pretty rigorously. We bought a truck – but only because when we buy from Home Depot or such, we can’t get it delivered (they won’t do it) so we have to cash and carry everything.

    I must say though: the one “convenience” you’ll pry from my cold, dead hands? My treadmill.

    I REFUSE to work out in public. At least until I don’t look like I hafta work out. Mweh.

    Margis last blog post..My brief hollywood observations

  2. We could have cheap gas if we drilled for it,China is drilling off the coast of Cuba thats oil we could have and start drilling in the anwar,and we have all these stupid blends of gas for the tree huggers we just need one blend of gas,and we have not built a refinery in 30 years all of these problems are because of liberals ,remember the Dimocrats promise to lower our gas prices when they took control of Congress I knew that was a load of sh*t,so when you pull up to the pump just say “thanks liberals”

  3. My family and I have cut way back on the driving around town, I write down everything we need during the week and on Friday after work i go shopping, we have stayed in on the evenings and sold our suv and van and bought to small non payment cars ones not that great buy my husband only drives 14 miles round trip a day one day a week we car pool. We have taken our extra time and put it to good use we have been cleaning out our attic and donating items to good will which i drop off on the way to work..people really don’t think your so right about them just running and running.. i live in a small town and were only 15 minutes from our jobs so why not stop after work and get done what needs to be done. I feel less stressed out now that I come home and don’t have to run run run.. The money were saving by not making car payments were using to remodel our house and insulate it to conserve on heating fuel for next winter….and gardening is a great idea! We have just started because of the cost of veggies is so high!!! If only everyone would stop and think!!!

  4. Amazon Prime is worth every penny!

    If I might add one more suggestion to your list: Homeschool. We take plenty of field trips, but it still requires less driving than I was doing when my son was in public school. And needless to say, my son gets much more out of our outings than he ever did on a school field trip.

    Outstanding post, Kate. Just don’t start wearing tie-died shirts and singing Kumbaya. That’s my job.

    Roses last blog post..On the trail today

  5. Gas is expensive. For a whole host of reasons. Some of them are economic (supply/demand/fear) and some of them are artificial (taxation). In relative terms, the consumers in the US have enjoyed fairly low prices on gas. Other governments have sought to regulate behavior through uber taxation of gas. Filling up a tank last year while in Denmark was stunning! And our government is mandating bio-fuels, etc. Hmm, all those cars that don’t work well with ethanol getting worse mileage, all those global food shortages/high prices because of all the food stuffs being diverted to fuels production. Drill here, not here, buy here, not there. It seems like all this tinkering has really farched things up, eh?

    And just to make certain that this is not an “ethnic” thing… The top 5 countries we import crude from (in barrels per day):

    Canada
    Saudi Arabia
    Mexico
    Nigeria
    Venezuela

    Jeffs last blog post..Patriotism

  6. Love the trips “to town for supplies”. That’s precisely how our grandparents did it, back when families had only one car and didn’t resent having to think ahead.

  7. Well, I agree the various emissions standards causes some pricing stupidity. In my town in Kansas, for instance, the gas is always 10 cents higher than it is across the state line… all of 2 miles away.

    But let’s face it, the reason we’re not drilling is because we refuse to drill in our own backyard.

    - In 1990, George Bush One issued a presidential directive placing about 85% of Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas reserves off limits. There are around 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas there, which roughly translates to a 20-year supply.

    - Congress has repeatedly prevented efforts to drill the ANWR even though oil found there could be piped out via the Alaskan Pipeline without damaging land or wildlife there.

    Even if we were to begin drilling here, our reserves are finite. We’d only be postponing the whole situation to deal with another day.

  8. Isn’t it ironic that people spend so much time complaining about how busy their lives are, and yet they don’t just say “Enough!” and refuse to stop running, running, running like you mentioned?

  9. Absolutely! It paid for itself in the first two months as we saved on shipping all sorts of things.

    I just wish Amazon would get better about consolidating shipments and stuff. Not long ago I ordered two books, a DVD and a case of candy bars (for VH’s sweet tooth). Amazon shipped them in three separate boxes. At least they all arrived on the same day, rather than requiring UPS to do separate trips.

    As for homeschooling, yes, it’s a great way to save on gas but I can’t imagine too many people will give it a try for that reason.

    (P.S. no tie dye for me… but you better not try taking my Birkenstocks away!)

  10. The U.S. also has the world’s largest deposit of oil shale in the Green River, Heath and Phosphoria formations and Eastern Devonian deposits, too.

    These come to 3.3 trillion (yes, with a T) tons — enough to fulfill the current rate of demand for oil in the U.S. for more than 100 years.

    Although other countries are commercially producing oil from shale the U.S. has not yet done so.

    WHY?

    Because the process itself produces greenhouse gas emissions and uses a huge amount of water, both of which are hard on the environment.

    In other words, we could have gas that didn’t cost much money but it would have another large price associated with it.

    Which STILL makes the best solution to stop needing so much oil.

    There’s no two ways about it: our consumption per capita in comparison to other countries is shameful. We can point fingers at this party or that party or this policy or that, but the fact is that we use too freaking much of the stuff and we know it, but rather than actually change (because, you know, that might curtail our “freedom”) we bitch about it.

    And bitching doesn’t fix or change a damn thing.

  11. Wish I could complain about fillign my car up once a month :(

    I work 40 miles from my home so 500 miles a week just goign to and from work. At 20 MPG, thats 25 gallons a week.

  12. Yes, having lived in the Chicago burbs – I can’t tell you how much of that behavior I witnessed by people. I don’t think anyone gave 2 minutes of thought to where they were going or what they would do once they were out in the car… need an onion to complete your dinner? Heaven forbid you do without tonight because you forgot – jump in the car and run to the store (nothing at all was within walking distance). Oh yeah… floor it to get out of the subdivision.

    I don’t complain about gas prices – I fill up about once a week getting about 11 gallons of gas so it’s not an issue for me. Back in the day… I was in college when gas went up to over 60 cents a gallon – trust me when I tell you – that was a MUCH bigger deal than what we are facing right now. It was simply crushing which sounds silly now but certainly wasn’t at the time.

    The economy has changed drastically since the late 1970′s. (funny what a change it made getting Carter out of the White House… heh)

    Teresas last blog post..I Keep Running Across These Stories

  13. Kate,

    I got stuck behind a DHL driving two miles an hour on the road the other day and immediately thought of you. Maybe the reason you never get your packages from them is because they’re trying to save on gas? :D

    Lincolns last blog post..Life going nowhere, somebody help me…

  14. Yeah, no doubt they’re thinking “Gee, that town’s awfully far from our hub and we’d use lots of gas to get there. So let’s let this 2-day package sit until we have a dozen or so more to the same area.”

    Which is why it takes 2 months for a 2-day package to arrive.

  15. “Have more sex” – babies are more expensive than gas. I promise.

    We are fortunate enough to both work from home during this whole gas mess. That’s another good suggestion – work from home whenever you can.

    hln

    angelweaves last blog post..Has It Been That Long?

  16. I agree with getting oil from our deposits and cutting down on agricultural oils, which are just driving up the costs of people food and animal food.

    But you might want to try this method for saving money on gas. My husband employs it all the time. We switch cars a lot, because I have a Prius and he has a Yukon (only because we need to be able to pull a horse trailer). So, whoever is driving the farthest that day gets the Prius. His tactic to save money? Whichever vehicle he gives me is always empty, so I pay to fill it up. He saves lots of money on gas, plus doesn’t spend time at the pump. Yes, we’re living happily ever after.

    Annes last blog post..Dung Shui!

  17. Who said anything about having more babies???

    Working from home definitely does help, doesn’t it? It’d be nice if more employers would make that possible for employees.

    A friend pointed out another good solution: push for city ordinances that allow for mixed zoning, then purposefully patronize businesses that set up near residential areas. The more opportunities we have to walk between home and needed services and stores, the less driving we’ll do. It will help save gas, and it’ll help with our “obesity epidemic”, too.

  18. That sounds exactly like something VH would do.

  19. Kate,

    I’d do a lot of the things on that list but, frankly, I don’t feel like it.

    James Joyners last blog post..Kindle: Like A Book But More Expensive

  20. WTF??? Your little “solutions” can’t work for everyone. I am a teacher, first year….The only job I was able to get is 40 miles from my home, I am unable to sell my house, not without trying, and am unable to relocate closer to work. I have bought a little honda, only drive to and from work, and still pay about 100 a week in gas. I am unable to car pool because of my job hours (sometimes I stay late, early, meetings, etc.) plus almost nobody from my neighborhood travels that far in that direction. There are no bus systems in this city and the train is just as expensive/if not more. I am not rich and I don’t have a rich daddy so I cannot afford to drive to my own job. I have to cut back on necessities such as food (and that is difficult recently finding out that I am pregnant), I freeze in my house in the winter and my husband does all he can to help pitch in, but he has to pay for his gas to work as well (he works 39 minutes in the other direction). It is easy to say get another job, but that is easier said than done, especially one that makes the same or more salary. I refuse to quit my job to make 9 bucks an hour and be in the same situation.
    Before you tell people to stop bit(&(*^& about gas prices, maybe you should know what you are talking about and maybe you should realize that not “every” situation is easily fixed with your “perfect little solutions”. Not everybody lives in a fairy tale land with little biscuits and gum drop dreams like you. Maybe you should do something productive with your life and find a “real” way to solve the problem of rising gas prices or come and build my city a f*&^(^ subway system by hand!!!!!

  21. Bitter much, Melinda? No, wait, don’t answer that: I don’t want to waste my time reading the inevitable whining about how hard your life is and how you can’t afford the therapy you so obviously need.

    Frankly, your first mistake was becoming a teacher. It’s readily apparent you don’t have the reading comprehension skills to distinguish between a list of possible ways to save money on gas and a pronouncement of rules to live by. (I won’t even bother to comment on your hideous grammar.)

    Secondly, you pretty much summed up why your problems are ongoing (and will continue throughout your life) when you wrote “I refuse to quit my job to make 9 bucks an hour and be in the same situation.” You see, Melinda, that stubbornness is tantamount to saying “My life sucks but I refuse to do anything about it because it’s going to suck anyway.”

    See how ignorant you sound? God help the children in the state of Missouri where you teach.

  22. If I remember correctly, you can have amazon ship your purchases all at once, instead of separately, as they become available. There is just one little place to click while you’re checking out.

    Amazon prime rocks (saves gas AND time at nasty places to buy stuff that you just HAVE to have but hate going to AKA Wally World for a new blowdryer because your old one died). As does living simply. Love this blog. Had to check it out because I’m sick of people bitchin’ about gas prices.

  23. Fuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh…………. Teachers are always the bitchiest of the bitchers. Why don’t they go get a real job, selling coffee or waiting tables so they can REALLY bitch? [BTW...I hate those folks (baristas and waiters) too.]

  24. We deserve the high cost of energy we are getting what we have reaped. Drilling for 2 or 3 more years of fuel is just like a dope addict saying this is the last time I’LL shoot up . A military dictatorship like Brazil is energy independent because they have not lost their minds to addiction.They made the right moves in the 1970′s to be energy independent. We have been warned the end of cheap energy is coming for 40 years by many sources. We could reduce our addiction to fossil fuel but we lack the will. We are great at drinking beer,watching TV ingesting viagra, demanding our rights like bunch of sheep crying to our political leaders most of whom are alined with the corporations that control most energy. As long as we worship the corporate advertisers and their messages there is little hope this will change anytime soon. Do not look for help from our goverment the cure will come from small businesses, single individuals, non profits ect. the technlogy has existed 50 for years to
    diversify and expand our energy portfolio. This is something we all can take the blame for putting our heads in the sand.

  25. Trackbacks