Liquid GoldWritten by Ray Barry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a happy, almost serene moment you have upon arriving at any major event, be it a ballgame or a concert or what have you. It comes just after you’ve found your way into the place and you’ve finally got your bearings about you.
“Man, we MADE IT!!” you say to your pals, embracing like a group of escaped P.O.W.s. They smile and nod victoriously. Some random guy gives you a hearty ‘thumbs-up’ as he passes, seeming to know what you’ve just endured: twenty dollar parking, ten flights of stairs at the parking garage … the dozen or so sleepy old guys in red blazers you had to ask to help you find section 141-B …
All that is behind you –- and now it’s time to…
“Hold up,” says one of your friends. “You guys want to grab some beers before we head to our seats?”
Yeah, you all agree. Now, that’s a GREAT idea.
“Alright, let’s see, they got beer right over there at that — 10 BUCKS A BEER!!?? Are you KIDDING ME?!”
Oh yeah, you forgot — everything here is absurdly overpriced. So much for serene moments.
And it’s not just concerts or ballgames where you’ll find this sort of price gouging going on. Say a guy takes his family to an amusement park? Yikes. That dude is screwed from the moment he buys his tickets. I mean what’s he gonna do, duct tape a full picnic lunch to himself and smuggle it past security at the park gates? Or, is he going to shell out the $68 it costs for a half-dozen corndogs, a couple orders of fries and some Cokes so he can feed his family?
CHING, seventy more dollars to the theme park — spent out of near-necessity. And let’s not even talk about getting ice cream afterwards.
Back at the concert, the shock of seeing $10 bucks a beer has quickly dissolved and begun to manifest itself as pain. It actually hurts. It stings deep down inside because you know for a fact that it costs literally $10 dollars for an entire TWELVE PACK of those same exact beers at a gas station, just over the other side of those stadium walls. But since you (obviously) weren’t allowed to BYOB into the place, and since there is no one else selling beer at a cheaper price (whoa, that’s strange), your options are pretty limited.
This better be liquid GOLD, you groan as you take your first sip of $10 dollar beer.
But, aside from the initial shock, you almost come to expect it. And really, since most of us don’t go to the ballgame or to concerts or theme parks on a regular basis, you (eventually) just chalk it up to the cost of having a good time. You learn to accept it, because you’ll only be subjected to this sort of highway robbery for a small window of time. Once you leave, beer magically becomes three bucks a bottle once again. Liquid gold, at copper prices.
Back in the real world, you have options once again. For instance, what happens when Johnny is selling a product for $500 bucks — but meanwhile Bobby is selling the same product for only $200? Simple — you buy from Bobby. And, if Johnny doesn’t lower his prices, well, then he’ll go out of business. Basic economics. Capitalism at its epitome.
But sometimes — there is no ‘Bobby.’ Sometimes you just have to pay those crappy ten dollar beer prices. Sometimes capitalism fails. Like, for instance, if you ever plan to drive a car.
Less than ten years ago, gas was under a buck a gallon. Now it seesaws every day around four. We’re paying stadium prices for fuel these days, folks, and we’re not at the ballgame.
You see, I was the guy in line at the concert, seething over the fact that he was getting ripped-off so badly. I was the guy who felt dirty and sordid the following Monday morning, feeling violated over the $70 clams I spent on lukewarm Budweiser in plastic bottles. I was mad as hell about being the victim of severe price gouging … until I realized: hey, you know what? It was a great show. It was worth it. And besides, IT WAS ONLY ONE NIGHT.
It’s not like you’re getting ripped-off every WEEK. Not like …
Fifty bucks to fill my tank now; two hundred bucks a month. Multiply that by twelve…
Thanks for that ‘awesome’ Stimulus check, Uncle Sam. Maybe it’ll cover the difference I paid in gas from 2007 and 2008. Probably not. Speaking of, I heard an interesting little factoid the other day: the top thing people are using their Stimulus money for? Bills and credit card payments. Second-highest thing? Huge HD TVs. Hmmm, I wonder why. Could it be because no one is going to go anywhere anymore? Ever. Sixty bucks for me to see my family in Cleveland? Really? Honey, better see what’s on the tube tonight…
Look, for the record I’m fully aware that you can choose to not buy gas. You can go “green,” as so many people are, and take a bus. Carpool. Ride your bike. Find ways to cut costs.
But the reality of it is: it’s much easier said than done. Most of us can’t ride a bike to work. Lots of us have jobs where there are no bus routes. And sorry, but carpooling sucks. Oh, and the hybrid thing? Sure, it’s a great idea, but how many of us can run out and swap out our current vehicles for a new car? Speaking for myself, I can’t do that. Most of us can’t.
The only way to get any sort of Big Business to listen is to hit ‘em where it hurts: in the wallet, same way they’re hurting us. But how do we do that, collectively? Boycott gasoline? Good luck organizing that movement. I can see it now: thousands of protestors, chanting catchy slogans for reform, lining up outside gas stations and oil company offices … trying to figure out who the hell is carpooling with who after they’re done.
So, until there are enough people to make an immediate difference, we’re stuck buying gasoline. Every single week, all year round, until someone comes up with a solution.
In the meantime, enjoy your ten dollar beers.
Read Ray Barry’s blog, True Stories at Stanleyavenue.blogspot.com.