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Pumped Up

by Stephen Lautens


March 24, 2000

I have to apologize to everyone. You see, I'm pretty sure that I'm the one responsible for high gas prices.

It's not the fault of those Middle Eastern countries, where God in His wisdom put all the oil and then made it so hot that they don't need to run the furnace for six months of the year like we do here.

It's apparently also not the fault of our government that is more addicted to gasoline taxes than a supermodel to diet pills. After all, the governments need that money to keep our roads in the wonderful state they are in.

No - I'm to blame, and here's the proof.

It seems that every time I need to fill the car with gas, prices go up. It never fails, but as soon as my needle approaches "E", the cost of gas goes up a few more cents.

Actually, it doesn't go up right away. I'll think about filling up on the way home from work, but it's usually late and I'm tired. So I wait until the next morning. Without fail, during the night the gas pixies change the signs and I'm stuck paying another couple cents a litre.

At first I thought it was just coincidence, but it's happened to me so many times that I've come to the inescapable conclusion that I must be personally to blame.

It used to steam me when service station attendants tried to squeeze in that extra bit of gas to round up your bill those last few cents. The car drove away like a ocean liner in heavy seas. Now when they're rounding it up, it's not just a couple of cents - it's to the nearest $10.

That is, if you don't use the self serve pumps. There's nothing like getting out of your car in the middle of the night during a January freezing rain storm to save a couple of cents. Do you ever get the feeling that you're not really saving any money, but paying their regular price and now get charged a premium to be gassed up by a professional?

One of the worst parts of the gas price crisis it's having to listen to the smug trendies yap on about alternative energy sources, like windmill-powered buses or cold fusion motor scooters. Someone was on the CBC the other day lecturing us on how it's our own fault since we should be bicycling everywhere.

Right. Perhaps someone should bring it to his attention, but we live in a big country that is covered in snow six months of the year. And the bicycle is a less than perfect means of transportation when you want to visit your grandmother in Thunder Bay in February.

And it might be different if we had a train system in this country that still worked, or public transit in the cities that weren't starved for cash as a result of the boomers demanding tax cuts at any cost. So a lot of us need a car to get around.

And of course they know they've got us. As long as the gas companies refuse to compete against each other, we'll never see a break in the price of gas. It's like all the grocery stores in town making sure they're not charging less than the other guy for a loaf of bread.

Of course international oil prices are much more complicated than that, but the problem is we need the bread and I don't see any new bakeries moving to town.


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