Thursday, August 11, 2005

thinking too much...(gas prices)

At the corner of the Pacific Coast Highway and Cherry Street a Shell station is trying to convince the world to buy gasoline at three dollars and forty nine cents a gallon. Mind you, that's about seventy five cents a gallon more than every other gas station in Long Beach sells it for.

I first noticed the place about two months back. Or, I should say, that's when I first noticed the exorbitant price differential between the tank of gas I had just pumped into my car and every other tank of gas I had ever pumped. You'll have to just trust me that it is fairly easy to make the mistake of wishfully perceiving $2.26/gallon when in actuallity the large plastic digits read $3.26/gallon when, one, your veins are filled with your father's blood who is known to drive halves of hours to save two or three cents a gallon, and when, two, it's four in the crazy morning.

Needless to say, I did not not give the old quick top-off pull of the pump nozzle handle.

I felt shammed. I think that's a word. Kind of like hammed. Not shamed. There are no people alive at four a.m. to be shamed in front of. Shammed is something you can be regardless of the number of verifiably living people at the scene, of which there were none on that particular morning.

What a great way that was to start my day. Of course I love getting out of bed anyway at hours I had only read about in books prior to four months ago. But to then have the deepest places in my paternally acquired "I will pay nothing but bottom dollar even if I have to carry the gasoline back to my car in water pots balanced on top of my head like an Egyptian women" genetic coding painfully offended was just too much.

Actually though, since thinking over the whole event and observing Shell's perseverance at keeping the prices of this single gas station a good seventy five cents over everyone else, I've begun to develope some different... dispositions towards the whole thing.

I am terribly curious about the whole phenomenon. I have wanted to stop at the place again, but this time to do some interviewing and try to get an idea for what sort of madman's scheme drives the peculiar behavior. Unfortunately I have not yet worked up the gumption to actual walk in there and ask my questions.

Which brings me to an entirely new topic, kind of: how often do we let our curiosity carry us away? How often do we pull the car over on the side of the road and sit down next to the older man at the bus stop we've seen sitting there three or four times wearing his variously colored thin knit carnigans, thick glasses, holding a cain and with his top hat of all things resting on his knee. How often do we sit down next to the peculiar people around us and ask them how they became so interesting? And maybe we feel as though we aren't surrounded by peculiar things that would be worth seeking out.

I know that when I write poetry, it always tends to revolve around me, the narrator, and his experience of the outside world. my poetry very rarely centers on the outside world itself. I think this is some sort of symptom of an epidemic that has us all thinking the most interesting things in life are the things in our personal life: our habits, goals, the t.v. shows we like, the dinner we have to get on the table, the new idea we're working on at work, etc.

Voluntary detours are so rare these days.

Thank God that there's always a freeway somewhere under construction, and where we least expected it, and always when we are most dead set on the directest route.


Blogger Justin said...

I've found that those detours lead me to the most intense moments of joy I have ever experienced - & when I igorne them, it crushes my spirit as if I were disobeying Divine Law.

10:42 PM  
Blogger james t nath said...

I was disappointed a few days ago when I went in and asked about it. Apparently Shell is forcing the owner of the station to keep his prices spiked like that for who-knows-what-reason. The owner is going to switch gasoline suppliers.

But yeah, I want to be more bold with people around me, more prying at times. I think that can be a good thing.

5:17 PM  

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