Monday, June 16, 2008

Pump It Up

"Pump it up, when you don't really need it
Pump it up, until you can feel it"

-Elvis Costello

Well, it's summertime again, and you know what that means: everybody's freaking out about gas prices again! Plus, it's an election year, so times all that hype by, like 4, and you have enough talking heads making talking points on the subject to create a nauseating montage.

In talking about an issue like gas prices, I'm always fascinated how people are always so quick to talk about these big, outlandish schemes they have little to no control over to lower fuel prices, while ignoring the little things that we could each do every day to ween ourselves off of our addiction to oil. Simply driving our cars less is literally the only thing we could do right this second to both save money and decrease the demand for oil, but it seems to be the last thing on anyone's mind.

Domestic drilling and alternative fuel sources are great ideas, but they are logistically complex solutions that no one can seem to agree on and will take a long time to execute. In a perfect world, yes, we would all drive Hybrids. But realistically, about 27 baby steps stand between that and the gas guzzling van I just ditched. Plus these are all only temporary solutions to a greater problem, like the guy you know who hasn't showered for days so lathers himself in cologne: it doesn't work.

Now, admittedly, I don't know a lot about politics, or the economy, or the environment, all important factors in determining the price of gas. I'm probably not even qualified to be writing a blog about this. I do, however, know a little bit about day-to-day life, and the tedious minutiae that goes along with it.

Speaking of which, I got a fortune cookie the other day that told me this: "He who waits to do everything all at once, does nothing."

Me riding my bike a quarter mile to work every day isn't going to solve the world's oil crisis, but it's going to solve my oil crisis. And besides, to me life isn't about quick fixes. It's about everybody doing a bunch of little things that seem insignificant at first, but add up, and, in the end, create this great collective piece of art that we can all look back on later and be proud of having been a part in.

And when you think of all of the things we waste our money on now, gas to me still seems relatively cheap, if you live in a central location, like I do. I have friends who pay $8 to see new releases in the movie theater every single weekend, who shudder to drive 5 miles from Orem to Provo (at an average of 20 mpg, even at a record high $4 a gallon that's still only $2 for a round trip). I'll gladly take the trip and wait for the Redbox.

All of this having been said, I'm almost to the point where I'm ready for gas prices to REALLY skyrocket. And at this point, I almost wish they would. Let it ride, that's what I say. I know that I'd be more prepared than most people.

With more people forced to use public transportation, we'd for sure have more local bus routes, and I'll bet they'd run more efficiently than the one 811 route that you can catch maybe once an hour in Provo if you're lucky. All of my friends who got suckered into buying cheap houses in Eagle Mountain would be totally screwed, and I'd be relatively unphased in my cheap old downtown Provo housing.

A little walking never hurt anybody. I have friends who spend over $100 a year on gym memberships but drive to get there. That's 25 gallons of gas. That's about 500 miles. Meanwhile how many opportunities do this miss out on to get free exercise by walking somewhere?

You always hear everyone complaining how we live in such a cold, impersonal world, and how "text messaging is killing us all!" That may or may not be true, but if everyone walked to where they were going, or rode the bus, it would be a lot easier for us to get to know our neighbors. Maybe becoming a first world country with a third world culture is just what we need. Or maybe we just need to start living our lives entirely online. That'll teach those damned oil companies...

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