Price of oil alters Slob's borrowing code
Like most other life forms, Digital Slobs are creatures of habit, and our habits die hard. This explains why we've worn the same brand of sneakers since we were 11, why we continue to secretly watch "Ugly Betty" after our wives go to sleep even though they already caught us that one time, and why even as fuel prices soar we still gas up our cars like we're getting free refills at the McDonald's self-serve soda trough.
But for the many perhaps oblivious Slobs out there, let me explain the fuel-crisis threshold we've just crossed in terms we can all understand: As of last week, it now costs more money to get to a cheeseburger than it does to buy it and eat it.
And also last week, rising oil prices forced me to adjust what I consider to be a pay-backable favor.
On Fridays my wife needs the car to drive to school shortly after I head to work, so I usually carpool with another guy. However, last Friday he was off, so I took the bus.
I used to have a typical middle-class fear of public transit, in part because every bus-route map looks like it was designed by civil engineers, for civil engineers. But thanks to google.com/transit, now all I have to do is enter my beginning and ending addresses, and a map pops up showing me the next three simplest bus routes to my destination.
This worked perfectly, as usual. But once I got to work, I immediately got a call from my wife. "Where are the car keys?"
Oops. They were in my pocket, where they always migrate out of force of habit, and we only have the one set. So, I had the key but no car, she had the car but no key (the chorus of a new country-western ballad I currently have in development). I was making her late, and the countdown clock on my marriage was at T-minus 37 minutes and counting.
Panicked, I grabbed the nearest fellow married man I could find and politely drafted him into service. "Can you drive me to my house?" I said.
"Sure," he said, responding instinctively to that doghouse-imperative frequency all married men emit when under a certain level of domestic stress.
Not only did my new best friend get me to her on time, his presence temporarily shielded me from her dirtiest stare. But later that night, I realized what else he had done.
He drove me about five miles round trip. Assuming $4 per gallon gas and a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon, I now owe him not only my eternal gratitude, but something much more valuable: at least a dollar.
Everyone has their own personal price point where "can I borrow ..." is really just a euphemism for "just give it to me."
For me it's anything under a quarter. If I still have controlling interest in the Diet Coke you helped me get out of the machine, then good luck getting your investment back.
Five years ago, Friday's road trip would have fallen well under my money-back radar. But now there's an IOU Post-It in my cerebellum with his name on it.
Thank you, OPEC.
Next week: How to tap into the Digital Age to adjust your high-gas habits.