Pedro Ávila

So I’m at the gas station the other day, pouring MTBE hydrocarbons into my vehicle. I admit it, I use gasoline just like the rest of you mortals, and I also feel the recent upward swing in gas prices. It sucks.

Remember when gas prices dropped to a dollar and a penny a couple years ago? Gone are those times, eh?

But it’s all relative. Do you know how much gas costs in other countries? How much it has always cost in other countries? In Brazil, gasoline has cost — for as long as I can call myself a person — about R$2.80 a liter.

What the hell is a liter? You might ask. You and about 98% of all other Americans.

A liter is close enough to .25 gallons — in other words, there are 4 liters in a gallon.

The Brazilian Real converts to close enough to 2 Reais per dollar at the time of this writing, which is to say that a liter of gas costs around $1.40.

Multiply that by 4 liters to get a gallon, and we start getting to the very frightening and desperate conclusion that gasoline in Brazil, a country where the minimum wage of $350 per month is held by over 50% of the population costs a whole lot of money. Specifically, this means:

$5 a gallon for gasoline.

This is hella expensive, and Brazil’s condition concerning gas prices is pretty representative of most other places on the planet.

So my question to you people becomes: What the hell are you complaining about? One fewer latte per day ought to cover that. Quit your bitching.

Allow me to put it in perspective, as it was recently brought to my attention by my younger sibling: let’s say that gas prices hop to $2.80…oh wait, we’re already at $3.40…ok, that won’t work.

Speaking of which, remember when gas was about $2.80? Well, yeah. Those days are gone too.

But let’s go with this $3.40 per gallon business. That converts to $.85 a liter.

85 cents.

Those studying physics, chemistry, foreign languages or at least those of you that have already read the above tangent may already know what a liter is – for the rest of you, it’s the volume of a standard Nalgene™ bottle, or the larger Aquafina bottles with which Pepsi chooses to adorn their selected university campuses.

I have yet to hear people complain of the high cost of water, or suggest that we bomb small island nations to lower the high water costs to our own citizens. Maybe that’s because there is no OWEC (Organization of Water Exporting Countries, for anyone who missed the OPEC reference), or perhaps because that’s just silly.

You decide then, since you’re so good at voting in a president who knows what he’s doing. I digress.

What I have seen instead is people dropping a buck-twenty on a liter of water without batting an eye.

Water. $1.20.

Am I getting through to you? Is this starting to make sense? Because I’m still confused…

And let’s not forget that there is free tap water available in most places where you can get a liter of the precious liquid for $1.20, and that in the Bay, at least, that tap water is good stuff.

I’m not saying that oil prices are fine and people should just shut up and pump their gas. You’re paying for that oil anyway because the US is among the governments that most subsidizes oil prices. That keeps its oil addicts happy and complacent – ergo, quiet.

Nor am I offering a solution to the problem of inflated water prices (yes I am, actually – drink tap water and quit giving money to Pepsi and Coca-Cola). But if you think that gas is too expensive then consider riding the bus, walking, or biking to wherever it is that you need to go. It’s free, and 2 of the 3 options contain no MTBE.

…and if I hear an SUV owner complain I cannot be held responsible for my actions. Don’t laugh, you bastards. This is serious.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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