Gas prices and another thing stretching my wallet

Gas prices.

What’s left to say about them except that I’m not happy, either.

Nothing makes me grumpier these days than watching prices at the pump spike higher and higher while my wallet gets slimmer and slimmer. It’s as if it’s been forced to compete on “The Biggest Loser.” That’s the TV show where contestants sweat it out to see who can lose the most weight. The only problem is, my wallet doesn’t need the workout.

I’m not the only one who’s annoyed by pump prices.

The newspaper that publishes my column printed a story this week about how people around here are getting so fed up with how much a gallon of gas costs in West Virginia they are flocking across the border to Maryland or Virginia to fill up largely because taxes at the pump aren’t as onerous.

Frankly, I’ve been avoiding filling up in the Eastern Panhandle since we first moved here. It didn’t take me very long to notice that prices are easier to swallow along the route I take to my job in the nation’s capital. I’m willing to bet I’ve been down every exit between here and D.C. in search of cheap gas. Those blue interstate signs indicating where filling stations can be found are just too hard to ignore.

I’ve become so desperate that on my way home just the other day, I took a chance on stranding myself along the highway because I was so disgusted with the prices where I had stopped. I was running on fumes but I was sure cheaper gas awaited me if I could just make it to the next exit.  My car was sputtering when I got there, but it wasn’t worth the aggravation. Prices were just as high as where I previously stopped. I shudder to think how much a gallon would have cost if I’d actually run out and had to have a tow truck driver or some other such person come bail me out.

My efforts at lowering my gas bill aren’t limited to wandering down strange exit ramps. Just this week I downloaded a Blackberry application that suggests where I can get the best break no matter where I am. I also make sure my bonus card gets swiped each time I make a trip to the grocery store so I can build up a nice discount at the store pumps.

That discount is usually sizable considering the amount of food I’ve been buying recently. It’s because of my nearly 13-year-old son. Keeping his tank filled is becoming as difficult as keeping my car running down the road.

The kid is voracious. Sometimes I think he’s actually more voracious than my gas tank. He’s constantly poking around the kitchen cupboards and sticking his head in the refrigerator in a perpetual search for something – anything — to satisfy his hunger. He hasn’t found it yet.

But his constant rummaging around for food has gotten so bad my wife no longer tries to hide the cookies and chips from me alone. I find this frustrating, mainly because he’s better at finding them than me. If I don’t get to the snacks first, he’s already gobbled them down, leaving me only an empty wrapper to throw away. On the bright side, I know I can always find him if I need him. I just follow his crumb trail.

Here’s a thought. While I’m across the border filling up my gas tank, I might as well check out the nearest grocery store. I could end up saving even more money if food prices are cheaper there, too.


2 thoughts on “Gas prices and another thing stretching my wallet

  1. I’m from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
    and I don’t think about prices as much as you are. I’m trying to earn as much money as I can. But prices are bigger and bigger every day so once I’ll must pay attention as you do.

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