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ISSUE 119 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/16/2005

A guide to gas grief

By Miriam Samuelson
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 16, 2005

When a natural disaster occurs, citizens of a nation usually become altruistic and selfless, rushing to help their neighbors in need. However, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has left many Americans mourning a personal loss: low gas prices.

The loss of cheap gasoline should not be taken lightly by Americans, who use 10 percent of the world’s gas for passenger vehicle transportation. We must acknowledge and work through the myriad emotions surrounding this issue. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grieving are a useful tool to help Americans deal with this loss.

The first emotional stage for a subject in pain is denial. “Gas prices simply cannot have risen twenty cents in twelve hours,” the subject desperately claims. “Certainly the Amoco made a mistake on their advertisement board. I’ll just go ahead and fill up anyway – my credit card bill will affirm my suspicions that the price is merely mislabeled.”

However, it is not long before the driver realizes a tank only lasts a few trips to and from work. Abruptly, stage two – anger – sets in.

The first victim of the subject’s anger is usually an unsuspecting gas station employee or store manager; occasionally a gas pump itself will receive the brunt of the subject’s rage.

His or her anger then radiates out from the concrete gas pump handle to the unknown: to the Bush administration, global warming, natural disasters or OPEC.

In stage two, subjects can become violent or hysterical in their anger toward unseen objects, and must be treated with utmost care.

When anger subsides, the subject enters stage three: bargaining. He or she may bargain with the aforementioned gas station employees, but may also go so far as to bargain with the powers of evil. With gas priced over three dollars per gallon, one’s soul does not seem such a steep price to pay for a lifetime supply of gasoline.

Less extreme measures may include bargaining with neighbors, relatives or random old men on the street in order to obtain lower gas prices.

When the subject realizes that oil prices will not decline despite his or her valiant efforts, he or she enters a state of undeniable depression. Symptoms of stage four may include listless behavior and a loss of energy, lack of enjoyment of driving a car and spending days at a time locked inside one’s sport utility vehicle watching reruns of “I Love Lucy” and binging on simple carbohydrates.

Only with proper counseling can the subject escape stage four and live the life which he once loved – a life full of joy and an appreciation for simple pleasures. Then, and only then, can the subject enter stage five: acceptance.

Stage five is particularly pertinent to the budget-conscious college student today, as it involves the challenging of social assumptions and the saving of large amounts of money. Acceptance requires a subject to be truthful about the situation and evaluate one’s choices.

Having pondered many lifestyle changes, I mustered the most logical solution possible: We must all suck it up and walk 10 minutes across campus instead of driving a Chevy Suburban. A tragic loss, perhaps, but well worth the money saved.

Contributing witer Miriam Samuelson is a sophomore from Atlanta, Ga. She majors in English and women’s studies.

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