A conversation at the pump

Like so many of you, I get overwhelmed by the news.  The creaking, crawling recovery is mind-numbing in the scope of the disaster we sit in, in Amercia, the government polarization disheartening, catastrophic world events that recede from headlines, while people (in Japan, let’s say) are trying to figure out their futures from evac centers, and the divide between the haves and have nots around the world increasing minute by minute. 

There is so little that I, as an individual, can control.  I’m not a lobbyist, a political mover and shaker, or even a major opinion influencer.  I try to advocate on behalf of Boomers and beyond.  I write about what I see from my unique perspective as a Canadian expat.  My sense of social consciousness tears me apart as, at the same time, I am able to function as an entrepreneur in the hungriest consumer market in the world.  I think about best choices for my child and worry about her future.  Cook my own food, try to stay purist in buying organic and local.  Take political action as I have the power to, write to politicians and bureaucrats knowing that I am just another number that gets standardized letters of response.  I donate money to worthy causes and for disaster relief, even though my own coffers are tighter, as a small business entrepreneur.

So to combat these overwhelming feelings of powerlessness, I look long and hard (and just about every day) to what I can control, rather than drowning in what I can’t control. 

Which brings me to today.  Today, as I waited for 15 minutes in line at the Costco gas pumps to save $0.15/gallon, my van (a necessity in my pet service business) stood next to a Prius, both of them drinking the expensive brew.  The Prius’ owner (a well-groomed, attractive man in a jogging suit) and I started a conversation.  I told him my tank cost $92.  He looked at me wide-eyed and told me he’d barely reach $36 AND he’d be able to go about 500 miles without a refill.  I’ll go about 400 miles on my $92.  And then he said something that got me. 

I don’t care how much gas prices go up, now…not with this car.  Not even if gas goes to $10/gallon.

Ayay.  At $10/gallon, I’d never be able to fill my tank in one sitting.  I’d have to drastically change all my routing (even though I’m extremely well-routed now.)  So it gave me a good think…about what I can control.  I bought my 2007  Buick Terraza in Januray 2008…and sadly, it is a lemon.  The warranty is about to expire and at this point, GM has spent more money on repairing my car and covering my car rentals while the car has been in the shop than what I paid for it.  Because of its age, it isn’t worth it to try and pursue lemon law legal relief (although I should have much earlier on.)

I still owe for the 0% loan that I took out on the vehicle and, this morning, looking at the beaming, shining, happy face of that Prius owner, I decided that I am selling my van.  He LOVED his vehicle.  I TOLERATE mine.  Big difference. 

Now comes the dilemma.  With the horrible crisis and shortage of car parts from Japan, do I go for a Honda or a Toyota?  Or do I stick with American and take my chances, again, with a higher mileage American made vehicle.  I know a few of you would have strong opinions.  I’m still in need of some sort of utility vehicle (like a Honda CRV, Subaru Forrester), and I like my little accessory luxuries, although I’m willing to do without for the sake of better gas mileage. 

What would you do in my shoes? If you have an opinion or recommendation, I’d love to hear it (even better if you are a lawyer!! or a mechanic!!! or Marine engineer!)  I’ll be making the switch within the next couple of months.  You can post your comment, or email me at wspiegel@genplusua.com

4 thoughts on “A conversation at the pump

  1. Dear Janet,
    Suggest u use MS XL to check your total transport expenditure, & then make a forecast of expenditure for each option. U ensure each solution reasonably represented is on your XL sheet – remembering that every XL workbook is a tiny top left-hand corner of a book with almost limitless pages of almost limitless size – you familiar with this ? ? If not, I will do an example, which you-all can use too – but someone else will do a far better one, & improver on it; you need 6 solutions to avoid falling in love with 1 poor solution. If you can support USA, you do so, that is helping yourself/ves, providing the solution is Japanese thinking – they are very clever people. Then you can look dispassionately at each potential solution because you have several. In UK we have found small diesel cars as economical as Prius so far – Prius are heavy, but there is a smaller version now. You have to cost in battery life and replacement, depends on care and cooling and bumpy roads. batteries need cossetting. This is part of the new ‘Be Nice’ instead of ‘Kill All’ we have had to date. O2U. Best, Charles Allan McDowall

    1. Hi Allan,
      Love your suggestion. I’m very familiar with excel. Although I’ve had a horrible experience with my Buick Terrazza, I an still leaning toward buying an American car. I’ll keep you posted!

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