Punked at the Pump

No one rides for free

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: July 22, 2006

Punked at the Pump

I?ve been obsessed of late over increasing gas prices. When I leave the house in the morning, the local service station is at one price. Coming home later, based on CNN News management, the price has gone up a few cents, and this gets me incensed.

I?m not Mr. Math, but I know Umberto or Magali at the local Shell station can?t process the numbers that quickly when someone rattles a saber in Iran and the price of a barrel of oil goes up a dollar. Homie must get tired running up and down the ladder.

Gas prices used to change week to week now it is hour to hour. The oil companies are complicit in price gouging and it is the working people who suffer the brunt of price fixing. I know when I?m being played and don?t like it.

Liberals harp on the fact that we are too dependent on oil, we should be more fuel efficient, and they are right, but, they can afford a couple of 25 thousand dollar Prius and hybrids. Most broke folks roll Pontiacs and Hyundais.

One of my sons, who did roadside assistance, said that the electric cars are always having trouble with keeping their batteries charged and break down a lot. Ironically, they send a huge tow truck or SUV to rescue them.

My wife has been concerned with me over the last few weeks. Every time I call her, I?m at a different car lot trying to trade in my Luxury SUV, for something more fuel efficient.

The car dealers know that if what you are trying to trade in is a gas hog, they will try to pay you pennies on the dollar, and the Kelly Blue book is out the window. They now go onto an auto auction website and check what the market for your vehicle could bring at auction, then offer you that price. That?s how a 50 thousand dollar rig can be worth 14 thousand dollars in four years. Families shouldn?t compromise quality or safety for three miles more to a gallon.

Confiding in my wife, explaining my new rational for fuel rationing, was a mistake, and I was clowned in abstention by every male in my family including the toddlers when she told everyone I almost bought a Mini Van. The thing drove like it was made out of washing machine. She was right. I was over-reacting. She reasoned that in buying a new, more fuel efficient vehicle, the down payment alone would equal or surpass one year gas fuel bill of the vehicle we own and love.

With pencil in hand I have since done the math and this time wrote it down, and figured that gas at 3 bucks a gallon costs me an extra 15 bucks a week, 60 bucks a month and that isn?t going to kill my budget. If it does, the problem isn?t fuel cost. The problem lays in my inability to make good career choices, secure good management and pursue a Liberal Arts degree.

The media tries to make you feel guilty for being fuelish, but they forget that they inspired several generations of car lovers, of whom my Homies and I could be king. For many Americans who don?t wear Birkenstock sandals to work, a car speaks to a certain identity, and I said it, a status symbol. We, especially in California, live in a car culture. Our ride is home away from home.We expect the freedom to come and go as we please, where we please, when we please.

I?m sure the same this is true in other cultures where you would be ridiculed because your camel only has one hump, your donkey has big lips, your elephant has a lazy eye, or your horse is chronically incontinent. If your prime mode of transportation is by ostrich, don?t plan on wearing glasses or expect anything to stay in your pockets by the time you get back to the hut.

I have limited travel by making a concerted effort not to visit relatives, and try to plan my trips more carefully doing several stops along the way, but I?m still clocking 60 bucks a week.

My cruising is limited to wind therapy, road ripping rides on my motorcycles, but I still feel the freedom to come and go wherever and whenever I please, and that?s important to me. It?s too bad that on a bike you can only ride one person at a time. I?m sure the ostrich jockeys will feel me on this.

?It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity?.
- Albert Einstein

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos was a consulting Homie, when Sonny Madrid founded Lowrider Magazine.

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