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Rising gas prices are old whine

Column by Barry Smith, Nevada Appeal managing editor

As summer approaches, three things rise: temperatures, gas prices and the whining about gas prices.

True, I have taken up the defense of drivers in the past. Last year about this time, I was campaigning on behalf of senior citizens who deserve to have a discount on gas prices.

But this year I’m deserting the ranks of the Fed Up With Gas Prices Club and joining, instead, the Fed Up With People Complaining About Gas Prices Cartel.



No, I don’t look forward to paying more for gasoline. Yes, I think there is somebody somewhere who is ripping us off royally, even though every time somebody tries to investigate they determine that nobody anywhere is responsible for high gas prices.

Well, look in the mirror.



Last weekend, when the temperatures were hovering in the high 80s, I parked in the lot of one of those big stores that Douglas County stole right out from under the nose of Carson City.

(As a Carson City resident, I should be ashamed to be thinking of paying sales tax to Douglas County. But I can’t go to the big store that Carson City stole right out from under the nose of Douglas County because it charges me admission to get in the door.)

Anyway, I got out of my car and noticed the big honkin’ truck parked in front of me was running – with nobody in it. It was one of those dual-cab, four-wheel-drive, extended bed-monster pickups that makes my car look like a Hot Wheel.

I figure that size of pickup truck gets pretty lousy mileage on the highway, let alone sitting in a parking lot.

I was pondering the running pickup truck as I walked toward the store and noticed a van sitting in a handicapped zone. It, too, was running with nobody in it.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “Here are a couple of people not worried about the rising cost of gas.”

When I exited the store – it was a quick trip – both vehicles were still running.

I assumed the air-conditioning was running full-blast, and I justified in my mind that the handicap-zone van had a perfectly good medical reason for running.

When I got to the monster pickup truck, I noticed for the first time that somebody was sitting in the back seat.

“Aha,” I thought, “that’s why they left the pickup truck running. They didn’t want to cook Aunt Gertrude.”

When I glanced up again, though, I realized it wasn’t Aunt Gertrude. It was Fido. The truck was running with the air-conditioning blasting so that Fido wouldn’t cook.

Well, that’s fine with me, too. Better to burn some gas than murder the family pet. Lord knows you could probably go for a ride around town right now and find half a dozen dogs slowly being suffocated in their owners’ cars.

Pulling away from the store, however, I started thinking about Fido and the monster pickup.

Fido could have been resting comfortably in the bed of the pickup, couldn’t he?

Maybe they forgot to bring a chain, and Fido isn’t trained to stay in the back of the truck. If that’s the case, then they weren’t thinking ahead very well, were they?

As a matter of fact, why was Fido along for the ride to the store at all? Were his owners thinking of buying him a new dish, and they wanted to get his opinion? Maybe Fido is so poorly trained it’s better he chew up the inside of the truck than the inside of their home.

Regardless, I concluded that the cost of gas may be worth griping about, but it still isn’t high enough for some people to do anything about. Like conserve.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing you folks who are driving 40 miles-per-gallon economy cars, walking or bicycling to work, carpooling, or trying to figure out how you’re going to take a summer vacation without a second mortgage on the home.

I’m talking about the guy I saw on the television news the other night. He was saying he often drives across town (this was in the Bay Area) to a gas station that is 12 cents a gallon lower than the stations in his neighborhood.

This makes economic sense to him because he’s pumping almost 40 gallons of gas into his giant SUV when he fills up.

And he’s upset that prices are so high.


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