Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Somebody's gotta pay...

The US government is taking tips from Chairman Mao in conducting the War on Terror. Let's try to forget that for a moment, and focus instead on one of the more light-hearted (and less reprehensible) things I've come across in the NY Times recently. It'll replenish us for the rage ahead.

This is an article by Karen Karbo, in response to a query from the Times about the effects of rising gas prices. (The graph is courtesy of the National Retail Federation, and is actually pretty outdated. I just like the way it looks.)

By Karen Karbo

In Portland, Oregon, embracing alternative transportation is on par with recycling: everyone does it. Or at least thinks really hard about doing it.

Our family was in this latter, slackerish category. But when the price of gas hit $4.35 a gallon at our local pump, we knew we had to park the car and haul out the bikes, which also meant digging out the bike helmets. And here’s where our family fails to reach a consensus on saving money, not to mention the planet.

It’s not about the bike, it’s the bike helmet, specifically the helmet hair that results after even the least strenuous pedal to the video store.

Portland is almost as bicycle-friendly as Beijing. Businessmen wander the streets in broad daylight with bicycle clips on the pant legs of their expensive suits and no one blinks. But businessmen are not teenage girls who’ve made a minor religion of keeping their sheaves of flat-ironed hair plate straight at all times.

My 16-year-old daughter will bike to the grocery store or gym, but if she’s headed to a social event (school qualifies), she insists I drive her. She claims the few extra dollars spent on gas now will save many thousands of dollars in therapy bills later.

I say, but what about the planet? She says she’ll deal with the guilt. I say, a little helmet hair will not ruin a good time, and anyway, everyone has helmet hair these days. She snorts: not everyone.

Which is the crux of the problem: until helmet hair becomes universally chic, we will never be free of our dependency on mom chauffeuring us to the mall.

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