The sky isn’t falling
The first car I owned wasn’t much bigger than a galvanized bucket. Friendly wags claimed it looked more like I was putting it on than squeezing behind the steering wheel. A two dollar bill — two dollar bill!? — bought sufficient gas to fill its tank, plenty of fuel to drive two hundred miles. Yes, miles. Later on, when Dearest Duck climbed aboard, so to speak, we needed a car with room for two. We bought a dark brown boxy little rig the colour of Dearest Duck’s eyes. By this time five dollars was required to fill the tank and drive the miles.
The price of a gallon — yes, gallon — of gas had increased by, oh, I don’t know, ten or fifteen cents, p’raps.
Some folks feared the sky was beginning to splinter and fall. Yet the sky didn’t fall. Merrily we all motored on. Then came a series of energy crises. Strife in the Middle East, where desert sands float on subterranean oceans of oil, apparently caused the cost of petroleum to soar for the clouds.
Alarmists, or soothsayers, or somebody, warned of broken shards of the heavens falling on our noggins. Yet the sky didn’t fall. “Harry, my heaven-sent honey,” says Dearest Duck, who still rides shotgun in our latest automobile. “You sound a bit like Chicken Little.”
“Shush, my Duck,” say I, “you’ll steal my thunder.”
“My love,” says Dearest Duck, an endearment whose inflection suggests my thunder is as feeble as pipsqueak wind in a node-east blow.
To speak like Thor the Norse god of thunder, decades have zipped past as slick as grass through Goosy Gander. During those years economists, or whoever studied those zig-zag lines tracing the fluctuating — yet mostly upward — price of oil, were more concerned with the ups and downs and ups than Englishmen once were regarding the price of tea in China.
Since this young century has ceased to crawl and commenced to toddle, high oil prices — albeit a hindrance to my and Dearest Duck’s Sunday drive — have become pillars propping up our nation’s economic temples. Even here in the erstwhile Land of Dan where a ghostly voice from a still earlier time whispers echoes of Have Not Shall Be No More, oil rigs stand on guard while sipping crude from beneath the ocean’s bedrock breast.
For ages, not a single soul so much as glanced at the solid firmament.
Then while last year waned, the sheiks opened up the taps. Oil prices tumbled. Ol’ Samson — if I may wax biblical — stood between the temple’s pillars and shuffed with all his might and the roof caved in.
The sky fell, nearly pinning Chicken Little’s tail feathers to the sod, eh b’ys?
“Oh, woe is we,” cried all and sundry.
Well, p’raps not all, only the Exchequer’s Copper Counters who bewailed the loss of revenue.
When gas dropped to ninetynine cents a litre, I high-tailed it to Canadian Tire, bought half a dozen of those large bright red jerry-cans and filled them to their bibs. Jerry-cans stowed in the back, I gassed up our Chevy, caught Dearest by the hand and towed her to the shotgun seat. We pulled into increasing traffic with Willie singing on satellite radio, “On the road again…” …or something like that. Of course, governments have been playing nasty. Agreeing that Chicken Little is most prophetic, they’re already slashing and cutting and warning that — woe betide us — taxes will have to increase, gobblegobble.
Pause for a graphic, bloody aside. Once upon a bay-boy childhood, I helped Pappy behead our flock of “done layin’” hens. I passed a coopy-hen to Pappy. He brought down the axe … and tossed the head-less hen upon the ground where it danced a ghastly jig…
… a jig that now the doomsayers imitate. They dance round the rubble of the fallen temple like chickens with their heads … well, you know.
“Harry, there’s no need to be so gruesome,” says Dearest Duck, my sweetest duck, not my coopy-hen. Oh my. Lest my point be missed because I babble — the sky is not falling. No way.
To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, my favourite author — living or dead — we humans are petroleum addicts.
And the manipulators know that first one floods the market. Then one nips off the flow …
…and up the prices go again, eh b’ys.
Or something like that. What do I know about the price of gas, or the price of tea in China, for that matter?
Thank you for reading, for understanding.