Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weird Consequences

So the bus drivers here in London have been on strike for over 3 weeks now. This has, on one hand, been a total pain in the rear. I like being able to walk to the nearest corner, flash a scrap of paper and my student I.D. and go where I need to.

Oh, sure, I love having a car, although I am terrified of what might go wrong next with my particular vehicle (it plots... I can tell that in the depths of its greasy soul it has something sinister in mind for my holiday travel). Even when there was bus service, there were certain trips I made by car because of the convenience/cost ratio. But, here in Ontario (and perhaps Canada at large), that ratio is different from what I am used to. Yesterday, when I was driving home, I saw gas at the low, low price of $ 0.96 / litre. That sounds low right? Down right.... 1990? Wrong. Time for some math:

1 gallon (U.S.) = 3.79 Litres
3.79L x .96 = $3.64 CDN / Gallon

Push that $3.64 CDN through a handy dandy currency converter and gas here is $3.46/ gallon in US dollars.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average retail price of gas this week is $2.63 USD. In the closest state to Ontario listed on the site, New York, it is $2.85. When the bus was available,I bought very little gas here in Ontario. Last academic year, I took the bus everywhere but grocery shopping and I visited my parents in the US at least once a month, and bought gas there, for the most part. (Incidentally, my parents are fine and we're not fighting. They're just doing this and their empty house is only so interesting.)

Enter the bus strike, cunningly timed with a sprained ankle (which is recovering nicely, thank you for asking), and the onset of winter-ish weather and suddenly, I'm driving a lot more than I used to. After walking for a few days, I found that my poor ankle, even with a brace, wasn't up to the task. So I sucked it up, bought a parking permit and have re-entered the car commuter rat race.

On one hand, between the extra gas and the $30 CDN / month for my parking pass, I'm definitely spending more money. (I'm also regretting that moment in 2002, when I told the car dealer "this 4 cylinder doesn't have enough oomph... what about the V6?" My bad.) On the other hand, some of the little things that ultimately add up have been falling out of my life. Since the start of the strike, I've had coffee from Starbucks 3x: once on a very bad day from a drive through near the grocery store, once in Michigan for a place to sit and use WiFi, and once as incentive to give a friend a ride... and he bought the coffee. I've also been to the gym a few more times than I might otherwise have been, because I can park next to the rec centre and don't have to wrestle my gym bag on the bus. I don't go to coffee shops to sit and work as much anymore, because parking near some of my faves is a pain. I don't go out to bars or resturants because I don't want to get kicked out of the country over a DUI (or whatever they call it here) and I'm a lightweight, so one drink might do me in.

So this strike hasn't been a total loss for me. I guess the big question becomes will these changes stay in place after the strike ends and I surrender my parking permit. Will the consequence of the strike be a fitter and less caffeinated me? Or just a me who is more grateful for the bus that picks me, my big butt, and my latte up in front of Starbucks?

I do miss the knitting and judging people, though. My sock output has suffered.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whoa, how am I just now finding out about the Osprey blog?!

Hey, I wish something cool like that would make me work out more and drink less. You'll be teeny tiny Jess soon!