Gas Prices and the Current State of the US Economy

Don’t worry.  I haven’t decided to write a diatribe on anything that the title of this blog entry might suggest.  It just sounded good on the page, and is loosely tied to my interesting experience today.  That is to say, for the first time in my life, on the drive home from work I actually ran out of gas.

I admit I had been careless in topping up my tank.  The other night I drove out to Encino for some friends’ wedding celebration.  As I made my way from the West Side to the Valley, the flashing indicator on my Prius’s dashboard came on, alerting me to how low my tank was getting.  I promptly ignored it, figuring the much-exaggerated good mileage I get from the car (the Prius claims approx. 46 mpg, whereas I’m getting about 37) would more than get me to my destination.  And it did.

It also got me home, during which time I completely forgot about my diminishing source of fuel.  And then today, on my way to work, I proudly passed two gas stations, slightly (and only slightly) appalled at the price of a gallon of petrol (over $4 at one station).  I have made it a point since living in the US never to complain about the price of a commodity that this country enthusiastically goes to war for.  The cost of fuel has always been extravagantly more in Europe or Israel.

So there I was, trundling down Centinela after work (again having passed the two aforementioned gas stations) when my car decided it had had enough.   It started as a slight hiccup, a loss of “oomph”, which I was more amused by than anything.  After all, I’ve never run out of gas before and I figured this was no more than an early indication that I need to fill up soon.  “Soon” proved to mean “right now”, as the car quietly and without further protest simply gave up the ghost.  It didn’t splutter, it didn’t rattle, it didn’t even whine.  It just died, leaving me with nothing but a bright red warning light on my dash.

Rolling it to the side of the road out of the way of the ever-angry motorists around me, I got out.  Forced to abandon the sad creature with a hastily scrawled note on the windscreen and its hazard lights flashing pathetically, I walked the half-mile to the next gas station.  I must admit I felt a bit daft, standing at the pump alongside other drivers, them with their BMWs, Mercedes, and various SUVs, and me with my red plastic 1-gallon container (which cost me a hefty $12).

No matter, though, because I was quickly back at the car, pouring in the pleasant smelling, highly flammable automotive water of life into its darkest innards.  There was a part of me that didn’t think the car would actually start back up, that I had somehow totally wrecked it.  But no, it came alive instantly and without any further fuss got me to the gas station where I filled up the rest of the tank.

So what’s the moral of the story, you ask?  I’m not sure.  The experience wasn’t a troublesome one, and I did rather enjoy learning an unequivocal fact that until then was imbued with an almost mythical quality (The gas tank really can go dry?).

And to think that this simple clear fluid really does make everything run.  How privileged we are.

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