Saturday, June 7, 2008

Don't show me the Benjamins

The onslaught of $4 per gallon gas has led to a surprising development in my wallet that has nothing to do with less money.

It’s all about the Benjamins.

Because I have less money, I’m surprised to find myself carrying around more $100 bills.

It just cost me $57.75 to fill up my 2007 Saturn Vue. I remember the first time earlier this year that it cost me more than $50 to fill up my tank and thinking, “Gee, it wasn’t that long ago that dropping a $50 was a near guarantee I’d be getting laid that night.”

And, of course, I meant with my darling wife. But it was true. That used to be dinner, a movie and the kind of snuggling me and the boys used to dream about peeking through Playboys back in the woods behind the high school.

Now, that same $50 will get me back and forth to the office with a couple of trips to Lowes, the grocery store and to the pizza joint that no longer delivers because it surrendered to exorbitant gas prices.

It used to be my fast cash ATM option was $120. Now, I need to see an actual teller and take out maybe $300. That’s way too many $20s for them to bother so they’re often doling out $50s and, for me, the most kingly of currency, the $100 bill. This week’s vacation so it meant a deluge of the big boys.

With $20s, I’m casual. It’s the perfect currency for a guy with my simple needs. I go out for drinks, set a $20 on the bar and forget about it for the night (my local tavern’s even cheaper than me). It’s enough for a night of corner bar reverie with a bit left over so I won’t have to hear the underpaid bartender bitch so much next time about high gas prices.

Paying anything with a hundred, too, induces stress. Some places don’t accept them. The guy behind me sees it and begins resenting me because he mistakenly thinks I’m a well-off big shot. It’s a hassle for the clerk cause they have to get that little counterfeit-detecting pen out and see if I printed this up in my basement.

It makes every situation more tense. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure one of these days I’ll become absolutely frantic in the belief that I’ve lost one of these foldable monthly utility payments. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve been known to misplace a $20 here or there. I usually find it or can track down where it went. Usually.

But it’ll ruin my week when that happens with a $100 or a $50 and it’s bound to. I have to be more careful.

High gas prices are forcing me to be more responsible.

I don’t like it one damn bit.

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