Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Price Of Living

$60.11. I stood there staring at the numbers willing them to change. Then I blinked. Nothing happened. $60.11. That’s what it cost me to fill up my 2 door, dull black, in-need-of-antifreeze Honda Accord 2002 Special Edition.
I had seen the prices and had done my fare share of SMH, but the reality of the gas hike hadn’t hit me because I rarely fill up my tank. When I see my car getting low on gas I put in 10 gallons or $40.00 –which ever registers first. But the other day, the gas light was on and I decided to fill up. To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

Because I earn a decent wage and have a manageable amount of debt, I can afford to put gas in my car. But this trip to the gas station cruelly reminded me of our country’s economic downfall and the fragility of my place in the work world. Teaching was always considered a “safe” profession, but with budget deficits looming large, teachers are being let go without the safety net of yester year.
That’s happened to me last year. I went to work on Monday and was out of work by Wednesday of the second week of June with benefits lasting through the end of the month. I took a position that was guaranteed for a year, and now I’m once again looking for employment. For the second time in my 18 years with the Board of Education, I’m teaching summer school—buying time until principals get their budget in July.

If nothing else, the reality check of my $60.11 trip to the gas station will force me to be more resourceful. I’ll put some air in my bike tires and ride my bike if I’m not traveling far. I can ride to the barber shop or the health club. I was a latent driver so I spent a lot of time on buses and trains so, I know that Chicago has an excellent public transportation system that I can utilize. A friend of mine is 50+ years old, doesn’t drive but manages to get anywhere she needs to go via public transportation. And last but not least, I bought a new HD flat screen, got Cable (finally!) I also have a great backyard, so I can create some wonderful stay-cations this year. I might not be able to beat the high cost of gas, but I can improvise.

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