Thursday Night At The Pumps
To be fair, it is summer and Michigan as a whole has a bizarre tendency for gas prices to shoot up on Fridays and drop down some by Monday or Tuesday. The gas stations claim they aren't colluding on anything -- they only respond to what other gas stations do. And gouging the tourists and anyone in Michigan with either a cooler, suitcase or something attached to a trailer hitch, anywhere from 5 to 25 cents a gallon every damned weekend -- is just a coincidence.
This leads to the speculation that somewhere in mid-Michigan there is one scuzbucket with a three-day beard, unlit cigar, hairy chest and a dirty white undershirt with food stains from the first Bush Administration, who is the one jacking up prices on weekends and everytime he hears that a barrel of oil which hasn't even left the ground yet is going up. And everyone else just blindly goes along.
So often Thursday evenings are often busy, but they seemed doubly so on my way home last night. I would've thought the Fourth of July was the big travel weekend, but maybe that's more of a stay-at-home long weekend.
$2.189 versus $2.349
The Admiral gas station at 68th Avenue and M-45 Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale MI seemed to be bucking the trend. Last night I noticed they were selling 16 to 20 cents a gallon cheaper than the other places in town, and had SUVs in line sucking down gas while sitting there waiting to buy more. Speedway, on the other side of Allendale was also packed last night, even with higher prices.
Today The Traffic Hazard
Going through Allendale just shy of noon today, I saw lines at the Admiral gas station, extending out into the street.
"Oh crap," I thought. "Something else has happened, and sleeping in long enough to miss NPR's Morning Edition means I'm missing some big pronouncement."
No. They're just still at $2.189/gal for unleaded regular. By the time I swung back from my errand in town to see what was in our P.O. Box, the Admiral was even more crowded, and trying to get back onto 68th Avenue north was tricky because of all the cars trying to get around the jammed gas station.
The people of West Michigan are neither ghouls nor panickers. They're just cheap.
Life after 7-7 rolls on.
Black Smoke On The Horizon
Speaking of cheap, I was going to Office Max on Alpine, where they were running a "15% off on everything you can stick in this paper bag we put in your Sunday paper" sale. One of my printers was outputting dark brown instead of bright red the other night on a mailing label, which pretty much tells me I need a new HP 41 tri-color cartridge. And picking up another HP 74A LaserJet 4ML toner for 15% off is always a good thing, given the number of manuscripts and editing drafts I'm printing these days for my alleged SF writing "career".
(Another sure sign that I am "getting" somewhere with my writing -- this is the first year of my entire set of forty-six years so far and counting that I've had to actually buy paper clips. I have prided myself for years on recycling paper clips which come my way, but I "always" had enough. Til recently.)
Coming back on I-96 west, I saw this big column of black smoke billowing up past the first Coopersville exit. The closer I got to Exit 16, the bigger it got. I hoped that it wasn't coming from any of the businesses I knew.
Now that's a terrible thought. I don't really wish bad things on people I don't know (unless they're evil hackers or terrorists and then rain down on 'em, I always say), but I try to give some of my local custom to local businesses as much as possible, so it isn't all sucked away by some chain, and knowing how hard it is to start and maintain a business in a more rural setting, I don't want to see them hurt.
Black Smoke Turns to White
Around the last curve, however, as the smoke changed color indicating someone had gotten control of things, I started seeing flashing lights and fire equipment on the eastbound side and the remains of a car pulled over on the shoulder. It was so enveloped in billowing white smoke I couldn't rightly see what kind of car it was -- besides I was in the process of exiting at the time -- but it might have been a late model Camero. Looked pretty gutted on the inside.
Not sure what happened, but I do so hope the people were all right.
Even every day life can get hairy from time to time...