Don't worry this isn't another column about a trip to my doctor.
I just filled up.
They used to refer to slot machines as one-armed bandits. I'd like to challenge that theory. Gaming casinos have nothing on gas stations right now. Especially in our neck of the woods.
At $3.69 a gallon, although it might be more by the time you read this, I'm beginning to wonder just how high this number is going to reach.
We gasped at the prospect of $4 and $5 a gallon prices by the number. Folks, that's conservative based on some figures that came across my desk Friday. There are some financial experts who are anticipating $7 to $10 within the summer timeframe.
But lets just worry about $3.69 a gallon for the moment.
Last weekend, I traveled to Harrisburg, S.D. for my daughter's final basketball tournament of the year. I must admit, while I do enjoy watching this group of young ladies hoop it up - they won seven straight tournaments at one point last summer - I'm on the verge of bankruptcy thanks to the travel expenses, which translates to high price of gas.
And what really irritated me on the trip, besides the gas gauge dropping by the minute, was the fact that in our neighboring counties to the west, prices ranged 20 to 24 cents cheaper.
I'm honest when it comes to fuel pricing and the cost of getting the gas from the plant to the pump. I know nothing. I do know the retailers make minimal profits from fuel. They get their big bucks from the unhealthy stuff on the shelf, pouring from the fountain, and sitting in the cooler. It's the oil companies and state and federal taxes reaping the biggest benefit from your fuel purchases.
So, all things considered, can someone please explain to me why gas in O'Brien and Sioux counties is so much cheaper than it is here. I mean a nickel, maybe a dime difference, sure. But 20 to 25 cents? Come on man, our local fuel pumps should be wearing masks and the voice on the intercom should say stick-'em up the second you begin filling your tank.
Do I have the answers? No. If I did, I wouldn't be asking the questions.
But I'm guessing if things continue to trend the way they have been, the tourist travel is going to stagnate. Most people aren't willing to take out a second mortgage on their home in order to take a trip to Yellowstone Park (which may or may not be open by the way depending on government closures and financing).
I'm not blaming our local fueling stops.
No, I'm blaming a government that has made us reliant on oil we purchase from the Middle East. I'm blaming a government that refuses to allow us to tap into our own natural resources. I'm blaming a government that wants to ensure the pipelines in Alaska remain silent because the hum of flowing oil might disturb Mr. Moose and his family. I'm blaming a government that gives drilling rights off our shores to countries to take our resources then have us buy it back at a pumped-up cost.
But I guess as long as we all sit back and continue to accept it. ...
Hey, wait just a minute. I think the pump just picked my pocket while I had my back turned.