Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Forlorn about forthcoming $4 fuel

The number four is one that looms eerily in my mind nowadays.

Now would be the time to insert a bad joke, say something along the lines of, &8220;Why is 6 afraid of 7?&8221;

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But these are serious times, and this is a serious matter.

Four is the magic &8212; or tragic &8212; number for most people in Dallas County because we&8217;re probably all counting the days until those big signs towering above gas stations break the $4 mark.

Personally, I&8217;m keeping a journal for my remaining days in the $3+ gas price world. That way, I&8217;ll be able to keep sharp the memories of fuel that hadn&8217;t yet reached devastating expense. I&8217;ll also be able to prove to my grandkids that people actually were dumb enough to drive vehicles not powered by banana peels and hydrogen peroxide.

Let me share a few recent passages with you:

March 31: Pondering the meaning of life. Granted, this has nothing to do with gas prices. But I need something to remind me that a $70 tank of gas for my truck is not a good reason to violently lash out at the nearest stranger.

April 4: During my weekly fill-up, I enviously looked at some guy standing next to a Honda Accord. I perked up when I realized the fuel cost to ship the individual parts for his vehicle is probably more than I&8217;ll spend in five years.

April 15: I&8217;ve been trying for days to figure out if riding a bicycle the 12 miles to work is worth the trouble. Then I figured, why should I be different from all the other lazy, overweight people in this country? I know! I&8217;ll start driving slower. That&8217;s sure to help out.

April 19: Resisted the urge to verbally respond to the old guy who passed me while I was doing 55 in a 65. He wouldn&8217;t hear me anyway. I mean, not because he&8217;s old, but because … Nevermind.

April 22: I hadn&8217;t even gotten the gas nozzle fully off the hook, and I was already crying profusely. I&8217;m man enough to admit the stress is getting to me.

April 23: It&8217;s Wednesday. If this quarter tank of gas doesn&8217;t get me to Friday, I&8217;m going to burn my truck in the back yard and try to fool the insurance company into believing a power line fell on it. Wait, it got struck by lighting. Yeah, that sounds more believable.

That&8217;s enough to give you an idea of the mental, emotional and financial torment I have been going through. It&8217;s something I&8217;m sure you can all relate to.

I always love it when I hear people say, &8220;We need gas, so there&8217;s no use in complaining about it.&8221;

We need the doctors, too, but it&8217;s everything we can do to keep from seeing them more than we have to.

There&8217;s about a million things we do to drive gas prices up, and fighting wars in the Middle East is the least of them.

For instance, let&8217;s all walk to the restaurant down the street if we&8217;re stepping out for lunch.

If you can&8217;t carpool (and I don&8217;t see many reasons why anyone can&8217;t) figure out how to make as few trips in your vehicle as possible during the day.

Take good care of your car. There&8217;s this beautiful thing called preventative maintenance. It keeps us from looking embarrassed when our cars don&8217;t start in front of the grocery store, and it will save us money at the pump. You would not believe how much things like

oil changes, tune-ups and properly inflated tires save us money on gas.

I know I joked earlier about driving under the limit, but the last thing decelerating on the road will do is kill anybody.

Be safe. Save a fossilized dinosaur.

By the way, 6 is afraid of 7 because 7-8-9. Umm, yeah.

George L. Jones is the Times-Journal managing editor. He can be reached at 334-410-1744 or