Monday, March 10, 2008


Last Wednesday the price of petrol went up by the steepest jump yet. 61c a litre. We're now paying over R8 for a litre of lead-replacement juice, and on a beast like Olivia that makes travel very very expensive.

Commuting too.

I had decided I'd take my chances and fill up on the way home from work just before the price went up. By the time I got to work Olivia was running low - and in spite of possessing three tanks it doesn't help if all of them are empty! So right after work I toddled off to the petrol station right next door to the office.

To find they were completely out of fuel.

Dilemma. Next fuel stop is 10km or so away. Or I could go in the opposite direction for a km or two, risk running out of fuel getting there, and find they're also out. Meaning I'd be left with even less to go on!

Well I weighed up options and decided to rather head home-wards, slowly. Very slowly. Keeping those revvs way down and coasting downhill where I could (never a good idea in a Landy, especially one with servo-assisted brakes...). Up the last big hill watching the fuel gauge hover up and down by the Empty line. And then down to the first petrol station I could find.

Which was also out of fuel.


It's another 3km or so through town to home - rush-hour, stop-start traffic all the way! And two more possible fuel filling options.

The first had a queue around the block. By the time I got to the front of it, I would either have run out of petrol - or they would have.

The second had a queue out into Main Road. Same story.

So very carefully and slowly I took the last chance of the day and drove home. On the last whiff of petrol I'm sure!

A day later, driving the Fancy Landy (Favourite Man's Disco), I stopped by the petrol station that had had a queue around the block to squirt a few buck's petrol into a jerry can for the LRP-snorting beast. I was greeted by two petrol attendants who had nothing to do - everyone filled up already except me. I got quite possibly the best customer service I'll have all year.

With this horrible price increase one starts to watch the "joy rides" closely - to monitor what is absolutely necessary, and to consider telecommuting. Unfortunately we're assured of another, even bigger increase within the month. Unless you're a high-powered, high-paid executive type commuter with a SmartCar, the daily trek is starting to seem beyond the Common Man's means.... yet the Common Man has to get to work to get paid so they can fill up their tanks. It's a vicious, unaffordable circle.

As is food, electricity, and quite possibly the air we breathe. Where this will end is anyone's guess. But perhaps the days of Expeditions is rapidly coming to an end except for the privileged.

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