Friday, June 22, 2007


Everyone has their opinion about gambling and casinos. The debate of publicly authorized lotteries has plagued almost every state in our great country. I know it has even touched my great home of Alabama. Personally, I am not ready to ponder that subject even though I do have an opinion. I have noticed that each of us appear to be drawn into gambling even when we have not realized it.

An initial reaction to my introduction of today’s chat can be somewhat shocking for some of the home folks. A lot of people dare not speak of betting or casting lots. Unfortunately each of us are participating in a lottery that is starting to really frustrate me.

As a child in Cherokee I can remember gasoline at the incredibly high price of 25 cents per gallon. Many of our friends can remember even lower prices. We pulled into the gas station and filled up with the clinking and clanking of the electromechanical gas pump slowly adding up the final bill. While prices increased, the change was rare. It involved opening the individual pump and rotating gadgets or gears to match up the correct ratio of cents per gallon. Changing the price wasn’t exactly a trivial task.

Twice a year Mom and Dad took us camping. Those trips were exciting because we actually ventured down to the interstate and saw the expansive concrete highways. On the horizon we could see signs reaching to the sky at cluttered exits marking the location of gas stations. The price on those signs were manually changed by climbing a long ladder. Even billboards proclaimed the price of gas at upcoming exits with placards that required human intervention.

Today we gamble. I went by the gas station and the price was $2.77 per gallon. Never mind the 9/10 added to the price, it isn’t noticeable after $2.00. I decided I could fill the truck when I came back by from taking my son to work. By the time I returned a few hours later the price was $2.95 per gallon. I panicked and stuffed every bit of gasoline I could into the tank. The price is on the rise. The next morning I passed and the price was $2.88 per gallon. The answer was clear. The decision to fill your tank is a gamble and the price of the liquid gold in your tank varies faster than a volatile stock market.

An article on one of the big cable news channels discussed the problem for the gas stations. Those poor station owners left with the plastic numbers for gas prices are constantly out at the sign. Most chain stations now install electronic signs that only require a button push to change the price.

A price change at the pump was simplified when we passed the $1.00 per gallon point. I dropped by one day and filled my car. The instant I turned off the pump the price dropped. I shook my head in disappointment. Now, if you have a special card, some of those smartaleck pumps will lower the price immediately.

Regardless of how you look upon other forms of gambling, I think we have found ourselves trapped in a lottery. Depending on the quantity of fuel needed, a considerable amount of money is on the line when you pull into the gas station. I’m pretty sure most people, including the station owners, are frustrated. I will not be shocked to find myself pulling into my local gas station one day to discover the price just changed from what the sign said during my ten second ride to the pump. I only hope it will be a downward spiral. Let’s place our credit card in the slot, pull the lever, and hope we are a winner.