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Will Work for Gas!

A dollar just isn't worth as much these days. So, resourceful and desperate folks like me need their feet to take them where their wallet once did.

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My first taste of freedom came in the form of an '87 Buick Century—Ol' Bessy, my older brother called her. I just called her an escape.

Back then, all it took was a few dollars to keep her gassed. Skim a little from my lunch money, charge a few kids for rides home after practice, collect the cash from bottle returns—that's all it took.

Back when a trip across town wouldn't deflate your wallet. Back when I would have never attempted to make an hour-long trip on just an eighth of a tank.

What happened?

People joke about gas costing an arm and a leg, but sometimes I wonder how much I could get for pawning a limb. Would it really be that bad?


Now, I find myself dreading the gas pump. Is it just me or does the gas pump feel heavier now? Maybe it's because it's burdened with the weight of impending poverty. When pumping, it's as if a bit of me dies for every hundredth of a cent that whizzes by. That meter is so unholy.

Forget the dollars and cents, I now see prices in hours of my workday—three hours should keep it off of E for the next couple of days and hopefully it won't take four next time.

Never before have I been so encouraged to walk the nearly 10 blocks it requires to take public transportation, and clearly I'm not the only one who has taken the hint. More and more, police officers all over the nation are leaving their patrol cars in the garage in favor of scooters, bicycles and, uh, Dr. Scholl's.

You have no idea how bad I want to walk up to an officer and ask him, "Are you gellin'?" As a black man, I have a general distrust of the uniformed, but they seem a lot less menacing on foot, especially when I know I've got the upper hand in a footrace (tasers and guns aside, of course).