Drive, He Said

Photo: Aaron Thompson

So I'm at the pump the other day, giving that slightest of upward nods to my fellow fillers, as if to say, "Hey, we're all in this together." But who am I kidding? The only thing we're all in together is a long-ass line to fill up our gas-guzzling, eco-killing machines, and we'll be in the same long-ass line next week.

If you believe TV news, all of America is sick—sick, I tell you! —of these rising gas prices and can’t take it anymore. But where's the proof of that? Has anyone really seen a decrease in the number of cars on the road? Do you have any less of a wait at the pump? Is it getting any easier to find a parking spot close to work?

If you listen to us media types, we’ll have you believe that the revolution is finally here because GM closed four plants and automobile sales are way down this year. But wouldn’t those two things have happened independent of gas price hikes because, oh, I don’t know, the economy is in the sh*tter? We’d also have you believe that more and more people are riding the bus because they just can’t afford to pay for gas anymore. Wanna bet? A Las Vegas reporter headed to a bus stop last week and couldn’t find ONE SINGLE PERSON who’s on the bus because they’re taking a stand. One woman’s car blew up and she couldn’t afford to fix it. Another gentleman lost his job and, hence, his car (I reference my earlier comment re: the sh*tty economy.)

If you go on the Regional Transporation Commission website to search for alternative modes of transit, don’t be surprised if it recommends you walk to work. But those of us who live in the real world remember that we live in a desert, and that because it happens to be June, perhaps walking isn’t the best way to get around (unless you count the ambulance ride to the ER).

So where's the outrage? Apparently not riding on Vegas' massive transit system, and definitely not hoofing it on our asphalt. No, the rage can be found around water coolers, in line at the grocery store, on TV news shows—all of it verbal, none of it manifested into anything less than the status quo.

There’s a bit of hope on the horizon, in that SUVs and their ilk are considered poison, while hybrids such as the Prius are flying off lots. But it doesn’t mean we’re using less gas; those who can't unload that H2 are just sucking it up—literally.

We heard over and over this last few weeks that $4 a gallon was the breaking point. But does anyone serious believe Americans, the most spoiled people on the planet, will stop driving because it costs a little more? We seemed to do just fine four years ago when housing prices jumped 100 percent. Let’s face it: the breaking point is far from here, folks. Truth be told, it may never arrive.

One last thought: In case there are still people out there who think this is an aberration, that prices will eventually revert to “normal” levels, consider this: consumption is higher than it's ever been, Range Rovers are still all over the place, and Republic Services still picks up our garbage twice a week. (Apparently we're such garbage-producing machines we can't survive on once a week service. So much for recycling too.)

We're in the sh*t, folks, and we all put ourselves there. So the next time you feel compelled to bitch about the state of your life, bottle that up, put it on a shelf, and grab it in November on your way to the polls. That’s where you can finally make a difference, even if it won’t show up on your monthly Chevron statement.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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