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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.

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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?

Seriously?

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.

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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).

It's clear that things ain't what they used to be when even the world's oldest profession is forced to adapt. According to stats from the Nevada Brothel Owners' Association, business has gone down by as much as 25 percent. It seems that the legal brothels in Nevada located in rural areas get most of their business from truckers, and with nearly a 68 percent rise in the price of diesel, the truckers just don't have as much left for…entertainment.

They are even at the point where they are offering discounts and incentives. According to the AP, certain brothels have lowered their rates, and others are offering gas cards as a reward for big spenders. Moonlite Bunny Ranch owner, Dennis Hoff, is offering an incentive that he's calling "double your stimulus," which allows customers to get double the services if they spend their stimulus checks.

On the other hand, the working girls need gas, too, as evidenced by a recent prostitution arrest. A Kentucky woman exchanged her, ahem, services for a $100 gas card. I can just imagine how that deal was struck, "For some fuel, I'll make you drool. For some gas, I'll give up the…"

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When authorities caught the pair, she was charged with prostitution and doing business without an occupational license. Hmmm, raises a couple of questions: First; would she have gotten off with just a prostitution charge if she had a license to sell herself? Two, seeing that it was technically a barter and she was not paid monetarily, is it really still prostitution? (Not that I condone it either way, of course.)

The gas pinch must have really hit her hard but, in all honesty, the United States is better off than a lot of nations in the European Union. We're fortunate to not see prices as high as $9 a gallon. America would lose its mind if gas got that expensive. Clearly, we've already seen a few take it to the extreme. One desperate soul (or diabolical genius, depending on your perspective) resorted to stealing a diesel tanker.

Crimes like this and other gas-related offenses are occurring with increasing frequency all over the nation. Three kids from East Texas stole 3,000 gallons of diesel to sell it off for a profit. "Hey man, I got that gas, man. I got that unleaded, that premium, that diesel—what you need?"

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When/If my stimulus check arrives, it will all go straight into fuel. Should we just cut out the middleman and burn the cash in our engines?

Hey, it might be cheaper.

Joshua G. Thomas is a writer in Washington, D.C.