Rip VanWinkle (gets tear-gassed)

The last day I worked was May 15th. Gas was approximately $3.80 a gallon. I know this for two reasons. 1-One of my daily duties (at work) involves gas prices. I am given a sheet of paper listing the “lowest” gas prices in the San Francisco Bay Area. I look at that list and read it aloud, twice a day. 2-The last time I went to a gas station was the morning of May 15th. In fact, that’s the last time I drove my car. If you’re just joining us… I broke my leg that evening, got scooped up by an ambulance, had a four hour surgery, spent four nights in the hospital (such symmetry) and have been home on sick leave- in a cast- ever since. My daughter now does all the driving. That is, when I go anyplace. Which is not often.

Today, we went out to lunch. We drove by the “cheap” gas station, the one with the lowest prices in Oakland, where regular is $4.50 a gallon. That’s an increase of 70 cents (which may as well be a dollar) in just five weeks.

Yeah, I read the papers, I listen to the news, I pay attention to the market, I watch the price of crude, blah blah blah blah. Still, there’s nothing like going to sleep when something costs less than four bucks and waking up when it’s almost FIVE.

I almost want it to hit five dollars a gallon just to see what happens. I know. Heretical thing to say. But don’t you kind of want to see it? Riots in the streets would be great, although I guess we won’t. But don’t you wish we would? The best part is, the rioters would be ordinary people, not radicals. People like my mother and father. People like me, my neighbors, the mailman, waitresses, teachers, the checker at the grocery, nuns, babysitters, students, bus drivers, salesmen, mechanics, realtors, accountants, librarians…

I mean…we keep saying “this is ridiculous, we’ve had it, we’re mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore…” Well, maybe not exactly that. But stuff like that. Yet… we don’t. We don’t riot in the streets. Ever since I was a little kid (growing up during Vietnam protests and Black Panther riots) I thought the only way to really get stuff done (when the men in charge don’t share your feelings) is to hit the streets.

I’m no radical or anything. I’m as mainstream as the next guy. But c’mon…you can hold Capitol Hill hearings until they’re blue in the face…and things aren’t gonna change until some cars are flipped over and set on fire.

I’m just sayin…

The cheapest gas I ever bought was 56 cents a gallon. I learned to drive during the oil crisis in the 70s. I remember we could only gas-up the car on odd days because our license plate number was odd. The big hubbub then was OPEC jacking up prices on us because we were on Israel’s side during the Arab/Israeli war.

I’m amazed I can remember any of this stuff. Truth is, I barely can. That was a lonnnnnnnng time ago when I was 15 years old. But I remember the newscasters reporting crude was something outrageous like almost four dollars a barrel. I know. Makes you want to laugh, doesn’t it? Or cry. By the time I got my license (November 24, 1974) crude was 12 or 13 (sorry, not much of a numbers person) or 14 or 15 dollars a barrel, four or five times as high as it was the year before. (I guess I could look this stuff up and try to be accurate. But I’m on disability. Leave me alone.) The point is, it was high and climbing fast. And the country was freaking out about the numbers. I remember this well because I had just started driving and you pay attention to those things when you’re using your own money that you earn bagging groceries (I really did) to fill your tank.

I’m going back to sleep.

xoxox, Rebecca


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