Some decades ago, when I was much, much younger, I frequently saw cartoons in magazines that portrayed a robed “prophet” fore-telling doomsday by standing on a street corner holding a sign that read, “The End is Near.” One day I spotted another cartoon in a magazine. Same robed guy carrying a sign, only this time the guy was running and the sign read, “Here it comes!”
Something about the perverse humor in that struck a chord in me, and I clipped that one from the newspaper. I still have it. I was reminded of it today when I drove into Seward to have the studded snow tires taken off my truck. I’d been debating for two weeks about this. My driveway is a sheet of ice with deep ruts where some of the ice has melted. While I can see the snowline creepily slowly away from the house, there’s still more than a foot of snow on the ground, and piles of it where it’s been plowed. Nonetheless, by law we are required to have the studded tires off by May 1. Since I’ll be leaving the country on April 30 and not returning until late May, I needed to get this chore done.
Finally, at three this afternoon, I called Jesse to see how busy they were. I said I could be there before 4:30, as they close at five. He told me to come on in. Quickly I changed clothes, backed the truck out of the garage and drove up to the wood shed where I store the summer tires. As soon as I finished loading them, I headed for Seward, 36 miles away.
As I drove that last stretch into Seward proper, I looked up to see what the gas stations were charging for regular unleaded. That’s when that old cartoon clipping popped into my mind. The first station’s sign read $3.96. The second station’s was $4.01. They finally did it, I thought.
At the tire place I talked with Sandy while Jesse and his guys went to work on my truck. Sandy works there occasionally when the owner is out of town. “This is my last day,” she said. “Sharon’s due back tomorrow. It’s just as well. It costs me $20 a day in gas to drive into work.” Sandy lives 27 miles from the tire shop.
On the way out of town, I stopped at the grocery store to get a couple things. As I was roaming around the aisles, I saw another Moose Pass resident who works at there. He told me he was moving into Seward to be closer to work. “It costs me $400 a month to drive to work,” Mike said. For many years Mike has been chief of our small but dedicated volunteer fire department, and I wonder what will happen in his absence.
I drove out of town without buying gas, even though it’s a long, long way to the next gas station. I have a gas storage tank at home, mostly for the lawn mowers and chain saws, but occasionally I’ll put enough in one of the vehicles to get me to the closest station if I need to go somewhere. On the way home, I thought about those old cartoons.
“The End is Near!” Not for one moment do I believe we’ve seen the end of rising gas prices.
“Here It Comes!” Nope, it’s already here. Gas is over four dollars a gallon in Seward. Six months from now, we’ll rejoice if it falls below that.
I just can’t help but feel it’s all legal highway robbery.
April 18, 2008 Gullible