Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Things are Tough All Over

I vaguely remember a Cheech & Chong movie from years ago. I believe it was called “Things are Tough All Over.”

I remember a friend I had in high school who would always say “Tough to be a man, baby.”

It is tough to be a man these days. Or a woman. This morning, I put $30 worth of gasoline in my car, and it barely moved the needle. My office is exactly 32 miles from my house, so the rising gas prices are hurting me more and more each day. And I don’t drive for a living. Imagine the effect of these gas prices on the trucking industry and how that will affect prices of everyday items that you and I buy. Groceries, clothing, everything is tied to the price of gas. Not to mention the travel industry where rising oil prices will surely be reflected in air fares very soon.

So, while I was pondering the effect of the price of oil, I found myself stuck in traffic. I live in a city that is divided by a river. I live north of that river and I work south of the river. With the river, there are a limited number of routes to get from my house to my office, and the geniuses who run such things have decided to close two of those routes for construction. So everyday I have to fight much more traffic than I normally would. I guess I understand it. I mean, why would we want to only close one bridge at a time when we could close two. I’m sure they’re working on plans to shut another down before this is all over. My wife has it even worse. She works down town. They have a bunch of streets closed down there for construction and to make way for all the vast new development that is going on. New buildings, new apartments, new arena. That’s all great, but it sure is a pain for now.

While I was sitting in the traffic jam, I was listening to my favorite talk show host. He was discussing the “housing bubble.” Apparently, when I refinanced my house and took some extra money out to finish my basement, I was making a mistake. The equity that I thought I had was just an illusion and very soon I will owe much more on my house than it is worth.

Of course, this is why we in America love our sports teams. No matter how bad things get, we can always pull for our favorite baseball, football, basketball or hockey team. Through the Depression, world wars, hostage crises, and terrorist attacks, Americas could always turn their attention to sports for an escape. Speaking of which, my baseball team lost their 17th straight game last night and are on their way to cementing their place in history as the worst professional baseball team ever. I’m very proud. My football team played a preseason game last week, and their “revamped” defense looked as anemic as last year’s league worst defense.

Now, please don’t be too worried about me. I’m not considering jumping off a shut down bridge or anything. I have plenty to be thankful for. For example, my kids started their school year yesterday. Both got off to a great start with great teachers in great schools. My son’s baseball team won their first ever tournament last weekend. My lovely wife is the cornerstone of my being and is a wonderful mother to our kids. We live in a great (over-valued) house and we really do have a great life. All four of my kids’ grandparents are still around and actively involved in their lives. We don’t want for anything.

No matter how difficult, tough, or depressing things seem to get, I can always look at my family and be very proud and thankful. Yes, it can be “tough to be a man, baby,” but only if you fail to appreciate the good things in your life.

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