A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Gasoline Holiday

In the not too distant future, perhaps as early as this summer, the following conversation may be heard on countless phone calls to employers all over the country:

“Hello, boss, yeah, I won’t be able to make it in today. I have no gas in my car and no more money to buy any until I get paid again. I can’t afford to come to work today. So, I’ll just take today off.”

With gas prices rising now, the annual seasonal fluctuation in the price of oil/barrel, and stagnating employee wages, this scenario could play out hundreds of thousands of times each day.

How big business will respond to this new phenomenon will depend on each individual company. Many companies may charge this event as an unexcused absence, which would leave the employee even more short-changed for the next paycheck, and aggravating the problem. It would become a wicked cycle of calling in with no means to pay for fuel, taking off, getting penalized, and calling in again week after week. This would keep happening until the employee had nothing in their paycheck, or until the employer gets fed up with the cycle and fires their butt.

Some companies may allow the employee to use such days against their annual vacation allotment, or as a personal day. These would be the lucky employees. Unfortunately, there is only a limited number of such days available to each employee and it would not take long for those days to be used up.

There are, of course, solutions to avoid this cycle. People could budget their paychecks and set aside an astronomical amount of money to pay for their gasoline for the week. Of course they wouldn’t have money for such luxuries as mortgage and food, but damn, there would be a full tank of gas in the guzzling SUV!

Of course, there is still public transportation, but this is not always ideal either. For one thing, it still requires money to board a bus or train, and if our poor hero doesn’t have money for his own gas, then he certainly doesn’t have it for the train. Consider also that the public transit companies have to pay the same fuel prices that drivers do. Couple this with less government support (from the Bush administration on down to the state and local levels) and the transit agencies have no choice but to raise their fares. Higher fares still make driving to work more least for now.

There is also the time factor in taking the bus or train. If I took a bus to work, it would take at least 75 minutes compared to my more direct commuting time of 20 minutes. This is not exactly an efficient use of my time. I’m sure all the employers reading this can appreciate that fact.

If these trends continue – gas prices going up, and wages going south – then it may pay for many folks to consider working from home. I don’t foresee this revolution happening for another 20 or 25 years. In the meantime, we may have to consider the merits of the gasoline holiday.

Oh dear! Is that my fuel gauge pointing at E? I think I feel a day off coming on...


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