Gas prices: Revenge of the guys in the small cars
By today’s standards, my car really isn’t much of a car. It has only two seats and a trunk big enough for a weekend trip. If I put the top down, the passenger can be taller than 5 feet 9 inches, but his knees would need to be pressed someone near his forehead.
It’s got air bags for the driver and passenger, but I really doubt they’d help much in an accident. Not unless the other car is a Volkswagen Beetle moving at no more than 15 miles per hour in reverse. Even at that I could come out on the short end.
I really notice my vulnerability while sitting in traffic. My “Short Car Syndrome” is magnified when I’m surrounded by giant SUVs. I can see the undercarriage of the SUV in front of me. The driver in the SUV at my side gets a bird’s eye view of my lap, causing me to adjust my fly. And the personalized license plate on the SUV behind me appears to be poking through my rear window, shouting something clever like “BILLYBOBS.”
I remind myself that guys generally buy big vehicles to cover up some other shortcoming.
Then, I remind myself that my short car gets 30 miles to the gallon and theirs doesn’t.
How do you like those giant SUVs now, America?
Let’s see … You roll into the gas station to fill up and there’s a bank loan officer ready to take your application.
“Will this be cash, or will you be exchanging your children today?” they ask, holding the pump nozzle teasingly close to your tank.
A buddy told me the other day that these rising gasoline prices will be the end for the Gore campaign. He says Clinton is responsible and that there will be hell to pay on Election Day.
Never mind that Clinton might also be responsible for the fact that 1 of every 3 American can afford a $30,000 SUV today.
We are a spoiled lot, when it comes right down to it. We want giant vehicles equipped with phones, televisions and satellite systems in the event we can’t find our way home. We want to drive them everywhere, even down the block to see Aunt Sally. And we want gasoline for $1 per gallon.
By comparison, even $2 per gallon is a bargain. In France the price for a gallon of gasoline last month was $3.93. In Germany it was $3.66, in Italy $3.80, in Japan $3.56, in Spain $2.86 and in the United Kingdom it was a whopping $4.55.
Not that we give a damn much what those foreigners charge for gasoline, mind you. After all, this is America we’re talking about, not some faraway place where they eat cheese, or raw fish for dinner.
I only bring it up for perspective purposes.
Fortunately this is an election year and SUV owners represent 78.6 percent of the electorate vote, according to a recent scientific guess. So the president has been sipping tea with the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) ministers in an effort to convince them to get those oil pumps pumping faster.
We’re willing to tolerate a little terrorism from Iran and Iraq if it means cheaper gasoline. “Help us lower the price and you can use the money to shoot down two airliners next year,” we promise.
Until then, the Office of Energy Services (I’ll bet that’s an efficient bunch) recommends the following tips to help take the bite out of gasoline hikes:
1. Avoid excessive idling. If your SUV is stuck in traffic for more than 60 seconds, simply put it in drive and run over the cars in front of you.
2. Keep your tires inflated. It’s easier to roll over smaller cars in front of you and it saves gas.
3. Drive your car while it’s warming up. Do a few dry runs over your neighbor’s VW until it reaches its normal operating temperature.
4. Try car pooling, or stick your neighbor’s VW in the back seat and give him a ride to work.
5. Walk or bike to work if it’s not too far. Remember, in this country “far” is defined as two blocks, so if it’s more than that just drive.
6. Quit your job. You’ll save gas money and have more time to wash your SUV.
7. Consider buying a fuel-efficient car.
8. Disregard Number 7. Refer instead to Number 6.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher and editor of the Nevada Appeal.