Years ago (I forget how many) there was a gas crisis which caused fuel prices to skyrocket. Nothing like what we're going through today, but it was enough to really put a dent in my wallet. At the time, I had to drive 25 miles roundtrip each day for work, which ended up being around 550 miles a month, 6,600 miles a year. When I sat down to calculate my car's gas mileage, it ended up being around 28-31 mpg for my daily commute. That works out to my buying 200+ gallons of gas each year just to get to work and back (give or take). Factor in that I was also driving to work on many weekends... and sometimes making the trip twice in a day when I had an appointment or something... and it was a lot of money being spent.
So I made the decision to move closer to work.
Now I drive 2-1/2 miles roundtrip, which is a tenth of the gas being burned and the money being spent. Even when gas prices (eventually) returned to normal, I was thankful to be saving so much bank. Now that gas prices are astronomically high again, I'm even more thankful that my commute is so blissfully short. The time saved is just icing on the cake. I wish that I didn't have to drag so much crap back-and-forth, because I'd love to start riding a bike to work and using -zero- gallons of gas. But I'll take what I can get.
For the longest time, I was kind of an asshole whenever people would lament how much money they wasted driving to work each day. "Why don't you move closer to work or get a different job?" I'd say. This would usually result in excuses like "I can't afford the housing near where I work!" or "I love my home!" or "My wife doesn't want to move!" or "I don't want to quit my job!" or whatever. I was pretty unsympathetic, and would always say something along the lines of "Well, then it's your choice to spend the money on gas, so don't cry about it!" And though I was saying it as a joke, deep-down I really meant it. Don't like spending money on gas? Then move closer to work. If it's more expensive to live there, then you have to decide where you'd rather have your money being spent. Granted, our public transportation options here in Redneckistan suck, so there's not a lot of alternatives to driving... but, still, don't whine to others about what you've chosen from the options available.
Now-a-days, however, things have changed.
Gas prices are high and the job market is horrible and the bottom dropped out of the housing market. Those who may want to move cannot do so because there are no other jobs or their home's value has dropped so badly. Even if they managed to sell it, they'd have to pay the bank to get out from under the loan they took out. People are in the horrible position of owing more on their home than their home is worth. They have no choice but to ride it out... no choice but to keep their expensive commute.
And so now there's really nothing I can say to people who complain except "I'm sorry."
I'm saying that a lot now-a-days. Somebody loses their job... loses their house... complains about the cost of their commute... it's always "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"...
And the words feel completely inadequate, because these have all become devastating blows that end marriages... destroy careers... ruin lives... and otherwise makes a lot of very good, honest, decent, hard-working people end up miserable, alone, and afraid. And then, just when things can't get any worse, they get used as a toilet in a political pissing match between asshole candidates who don't give a flying fuck about anything except getting elected and burying their opponents in the process.
Somehow we let this become our new normal.
It's no longer about how we can come together and build something that's great, it's all about how we can divide people and let hatred mire us in something that's failing. We've bought into a system that's more interested in destroying than creating, and now all of us are paying the price.
And I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of having to say "I'm sorry" because there's nothing else I can say.
Fortunately, this is a system which is ultimately unsustainable, and that's what gives me hope to carry on.
It's only a question of when.
And if I'll be lucky enough to see it happen in my lifetime.