Monday, April 13, 2009

Signs of the times

This morning, like many others, I stopped at the AM/PM to buy an energy drink on the way to work. What can I say? I have three kids, don't get enough sleep, and need a little boost. Let me have my one vice, okay?

But unlike other mornings I have performed this mundane task, today I noticed a collective theme - that of everyday people scraping along in this dismal economy. As I stepped out of my car I noticed a beat up van with the door smashed in pulling into a nearby parking space. The woman in the passenger seat had to use the window to get out of the car. I guess they didn't have the money to pay the insurance deductible to fix the inoperative door.

Then I went inside and a man was paying for $6 worth of gas. Not since my high school years when gas was less than a dollar a gallon had I seen someone buying such a small amount of fuel. That's fewer than 3 gallons of gas. How far can you go on that? The man was dressed in business attire, sans a tie. Probably a cubicle dweller somewhere in Sacramento, or maybe a government worker. He must have been down to his last couple of bucks before payday and needed just enough gas to eke by.

When my time at the cash register came, I had my own "slow economy" moment as I opened my wallet and found a single dollar in there. My wife isn't working right now and we've been squeezing every penny. I don't take out a lot of cash these days from the ATM and we try to economize whenever possible, so I just didn't realize how low I was on cash. Embarrassed that I came up short on my measly $2.50 purchase, I left my Rockstar Energy Drink on the counter and ran out to my car to scrape another $1.50 out of the dusty change bin in the center console of my car. Luckily, I had enough coin to complete my purchase, and the guy working the register was understanding.

But now I don't have even that single buck in my wallet. Guess I'll try to stretch for a few days without my morning energy drink fix. We've all got to make sacrifices these days. Perhaps I can find a coupon somewhere. At least I know from my observations this morning that I'm not the only one facing the crunch...

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