Sunday, March 11, 2007

1 ½ Chick Fil - A's

The Grackles Are Back - I heard a familiar sound when I stepped out of yoga class earlier tonight. It was dark so I couldn’t see much. Then, when I stopped at a light down the street, the sound got much louder, causing me to look up. The street lights glowed and I needed to squint to make out what I thought was, yes ... dark specks, what looked like thousands of them lining the telephone wires all the way down the long street. I smiled. Some old familiar friends had joined me here in Oklahoma. It’s funny, because as the weather warms and I head north, the Grackle migration seems destined to merge with my own. That’s certainly terrific news for the car-wash industry. Bad news for Enterprise car rental. (Check out the Grackle action photo and link to this interesting Oklahoma City site).

Interview-wise, after a quick start here in Oklahoma City, things slowed down because of some contacts not coming through. Still, other leads appeared from nowhere. Atina (co-owner Dallas' Downtown Yoga) and her Mom, Hazel, who I interviewed at the yoga studio last week – they’ve introduced me to some friends and family members up here in Oklahoma. I’ve already made contact with these folks and am headed to Kingfisher, OK on Weds, which I’m really looking forward to. It’s a chance to escape the city and see some Oklahoma landscape. From what I’ve been told, I need to take a trip to the eastern side of the state. Apparently, it’s beautiful land over there. I’ll set aside one day to take that drive.

* * * * * * * * * *

1 ½ Chick Fil A’s - And speaking of drives… When I first arrived in Wichita and then drove down to Dallas, the price of gas was around $2.00/gallon. When I was in San Antonio, I even found some places that broke the $2.00/gallon barrier, some places selling gas for as low as $1.98! I blinked. Gas was $2.15/gallon. I blinked again. It was $2.28/gallon. I blinked a third time. $2.35/gallon. Today, when I went to fill up, the price was $2.45/gallon at most places. What the hell’s going on?

I don’t want to get into it here too much, but it’s astonishing to see the speed of this latest price rise. And we all sit out here and just take it. After all, what’s the rise mean out-of-pocket? If we buy eight gallons at a time, what’s that? Another four bucks? Measured in Chick-fil-A’s that's about 1 and ½ sandwiches. I can handle that. But, it’s still creepy to think about what’s really going on behind the scenes. I picture people working levers, turning the supply lines off and on to suit their own profit needs. And people are saying this is just the beginning of what may be the largest rise in gas prices ever, with prices soaring to three or four ... perhaps to as much as five dollars a gallon! Can you imagine? Okay, so I sound like a child. But that's only because I lived in NYC for so long, I didn't have this kind of day-to-day relationship with the gas pump. Still, I can’t help but wonder. What's the American public’s breaking point? How much will the people take? How many more Hummers can people keep buying? Lots of questions.

I remember, it was about 8 months ago, I was walking down Central Park West and saw two people talking as I passed them on the right. There was a 60'ish looking gentleman and a woman who looked older, perhaps in her 80’s or so. As I walked by, I caught a glimpse of a button the woman was wearing. It was yellow with big black bold letters: “WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?!” I smiled when I saw it and walked for about another 20 steps until my feet stopped. “Older woman. Provocative message button. Hmmm. Eldercation.” That’s a common thought process for me nowadays, I have to admit. I suppose it's the “you only live once” approach and my choice nowadays to not allow special moments to pass without at least taking a shot. And so, I did just that. I turned around and walked back to the couple, introducing myself with a smile on my approach. The next thing I knew I was part of their conversation, which continued for another half hour. We talked about the amount of bull crap that’s thrown our way and how the populace appears to be sedated. I’m not saying that to be funny. The older woman, I think her name was Rachel, said, “It's like we’ve all been drugged and can't react.”

Well, on my way back to the hotel after yoga and Grackles, I hit the 7-Eleven to get gas. (only gas – thank God they don't have those good Texas brownies up here.) As I pumped gas I saw a man in a baseball cap shaking his head and laughing, then looking over at me, pointing to the price signs on top of the pump. “Can you believe this crap?!”

And so it goes. Another chance to bond with another satisfied citizen. The man’s name was Carl and we chatted for ten minutes after we pulled our cars up to the store portion of the 7-Eleven. It was another “Where’s the outrage?” conversation. I told him the story about the older woman in NYC, and we both agreed there are a lot of people out here having the same feelings about all kind of issues. So, I ask you. What’s the problem? Why can’t we figure out a way to connect the dots?

Okay. Too heavy for tonight. The more immediate issue for me is simple: a trip to see Oklahoma’s beautiful southeast territory means one thing and one thing only - 1 ½ less Chick Fil A’s. That’s the real price I pay for the recent price increase. So my question for the night is: how many Chick Fil A’s am I willing to give up before I start fighting back?

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