On the way home from work I listen to some of the "drive time" radio stations.
One is an AM talk radio show. She discusses national and local issues so I flip back and forth to her if she's discussing something interesting. She often poses questions that make me say ("Well...Duh?"). Like the one she asked yesterday.
"At what point will Americans feel that gas prices are too high and "revolt". (IE: demand change in our government policies.) Does anyone else notice how the word "revolt" has suddenly become a popular lexicon in the mainstream media?
I listened to a few of the callers throw out actual numbers like "$5.00 dollars a gallon". (Don't people understand that there's not a magic number?)
What I mean to say is this. The point when something begins to hurt is different for everyone. I think about it as "The Pinch".
Get "Pinched" long enough and then you start to say "Ouch". Guess what? "This actually hurts!" I need to change my habits so the "Ouch" is less.
There are people out there who are wealthy enough that nothing that's happened in that last few years has affected them in the slightest. It's mostly just a curiosity.
And there are also people out there who are now riding bikes, motorcycles, scooters and I'm sure, taking public transportation for the first time in their lives.
I drive through an affluent section of town on my way into work. BMW's, Jaguar's, Lexus...they're everywhere. I always note the price at the pumps as I drive through. At least 10-15 cents per gallon more than in my hometown. And you know that people who own cars like that, they aren't filling up with regular gasoline! The gas stations are always full of cars pumping away. Convenience. Money is not an issue for folks like that. (Good for them! This isn't a criticism, just observation).
I also drive through a more "poor" section too. I'm always astonished how the prices are also higher than what I pay. (And "Yes" people are filling up there too.)
I hit Gasbuddy when I'm due to fill up. To me, it's important that I make an effort to save a few pennies if I can. Gasbuddy was telling me (again) that in NC the best local prices were in my town. Since I was below a half a tank, I thought I'd fill up on the way home.
Gosh, they were busy. Seems like everybody else checked out Gasbuddy too. There were cars waiting in line to fill up. Not long lines, (a car "waiting" behind a car "pumping" kind of thing), but still...it gave me a shiver.
I was a kid in the 70's. The only thing I knew during the recession of the 70's was that our plates were "even" and Dad could only go to the pumps on certain days. We ate alot of rice and pasta dishes and Dad got a big huge book called The Victory Garden that I loved to thumb through. Dad took a portion of our sideyard and turned it into a garden for a few years.
What comes around goes around.
We've felt "The Pinch" since 2008. Both SM's and my income have dropped dramatically. I got my W-2 a few weeks ago and I made more money ten years ago than I did last year.
With oil prices going up, impacting food and services, what new levels of "ouch" are out there and coming up that we haven't planned for?
Will my future offer more cutbacks at work? Unemployment? Will we see rationing of food and gasoline?
I'm not a kid anymore "thumbing" through my Dads picture book. I'm an adult responsible for my family. But I care about others too. My neighbors, my coworkers.
I notice people seem to be just plodding along. Am I the only one putting in a new garden? Outside of the few that have been gardening all along, I don't see anyone new doing this in my neighborhood.
Obviously "The Pinch" can't be very bad yet because, while I do see and hear some people responding to some of their "Ouches", I get the overall feeling that people are in denial.
The New Normal...(God, I hate that phrase)...but it's true. The gravy days of the last 20-30 years are gone. For me anyway. I have a new standard of living. A new reality.