Thief MAG

By Charles D., New City, NY

     I can’t believe this machine is taking all my money. One trip to the Jersey Shore and already my wallet has been sucked dry. It’s not because getting onto the beach requires being a billionaire or because the turkey in my sandwich suddenly became an endangered species. No, the thief stealing my hard-earned cash is a tiny, fearsome, one-syllable word: gas.

As a teenager, I know the importance of saving money. A large popcorn and two tickets to see Tom Cruise destroy aliens in “War of the Worlds” with my girlfriend is the equivalent of a plane ticket to Hawaii for most adults. This is why, while my peers were taking routine excursions to the beach last summer, I had a job as a bank teller. The car that Mommy and Daddy brought home isn’t going to make its own monthly payments. Now I find that very same Nissan, which I worked so hard to save for, is the source of my problem.

After a relaxing day riding the waves, the Garden State Parkway was calling my name. With an almost-dry bathing suit still on, I turned the ignition and my car came to life. Cruising at a comfortable 65 miles per hour, I would occasionally glance over to see the gas marker moving stealthily downward as the fuel in my black Altima disappeared. I pulled into the gas station at a rest stop and placed the nozzle in my tank. The amount owed quickly jumped from $20 to $30 to $40 before the pump finally and mercifully clicked off at $48. I paid the attendant with a $50 bill, a smile and a “Have a nice day.” It wasn’t his fault that my wallet now only contained two dollars. At that moment I vowed to walk to my destinations - as if the two miles we ran for baseball practice every day wasn’t enough.

As I resumed my drive home, I considered how a continuing escalation in gas prices would affect the country. We should seize this opportunity to focus our attention on possible solutions. While hybrid cars are becoming more popular, the federal government needs to do more to encourage their use, like better tax incentives for their production and purchase. We also need to impose higher fuel economy standards on automobile manufacturers so that vehicles get more miles per gallon. Finally, many experts have stated that this nation needs the equivalent of a Manhattan Project to explore alternative energy sources that would not only decrease our energy costs, but lessen our dependence on Middle East oil.

But for now, there will soon come another time when that one-armed bandit known as a gas-pump robs me blind. And although I will be down 48 dollars, hopefully it will go toward another relaxing day of fun. Maybe next time I’ll carpool.

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i love this !


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