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As Long as We Remember...

May 22, 2008

Marylandís Pulse

Chris Cavey

About two weeks ago I started my fascination with “gas station politics.” We have all encountered this brand of political wisdom, spewed from the innocent perspective of the common citizen normally at too high of a volume and in a public place.


The true sages of Maryland’s “mini-marts” are typically the guys who hang around, smoke too much and drink lots of bad coffee. They glean their economic prowess from listening to the complaints of the dozens of people trudging in to pay for a tank of gas and grab a gallon of milk.


Their pulse on current events and worldwide happenings comes from sitting within sight of the stacks of newspapers for sale; however, their political wisdom comes from a sixth sense many people have apparently lost – plain old gut instincts or feelings.


They know when something is “just not right.” It might be an opinion, or a statement, or some crazy law “them people in Annapolis” passed; but it’s a feeling of uneasiness or wrongdoing. The biggest mystery of all is that they can all have the same feeling at the same time.


A good example is the up-coming slots referendum. Doubtful the “regulars” at the local Jiffy-Mart can tell you a hoot about what a referendum is or how it comes about. But they do know something’s “just not right.”


Why didn’t “them bums” in Annapolis pass this stuff for Ehrlich a couple of years ago? Why didn’t they pass slots like they passed all the new taxes? Why are the voters deciding? And what the heck does it have to do with the Constitution, anyhow? It ain’t right.


There is some wool to be pulled over somebody’s eyes; otherwise one of those guys in Annapolis would be taking the credit!


An amazing fact about gas station politics is that everyone understands. It is just plain folk chatting on the lowest common detonator…the effect of government on their lives. No fancy philosophy, no high level political science, and the only economic factors involved are your wallet and its relationship to your bills.


There is even very little partisan political wisdom eschewed. Mostly, both parties are selfish and don’t understand people and their problems. If they did understand, why is the price of gas so high? Everyone needs gas in some form to get to work. Kids need to be hauled to school. People have to get to the grocery store for food. It ain’t right.


Somebody is making money somewhere on this deal and it isn’t just the Arabs!


Few people really argue inside the boundaries of the convenience store. Mostly it’s just men and mostly they spend their time out doing each other with pearls of wisdom. Taking turns spouting what they would like to tell O’Malley or BGE executives or “them people” in Annapolis.


What is most interesting is the fact they know what is right. It goes back to that “gut feeling,” because you know when someone else is taking advantage of you. You can tell when it “ain’t right.” Its “them people” in Annapolis don’t care about nothing except at election time.


My suggestion to these gas station wise men is call “them people” in Annapolis. Invite them out to the Jiffy Mart, or 7-11, or “whatever is in your neighborhood” for some burnt coffee one morning. Let them know what you think. ’Cause after all they “work for you” and you can “kick the bums out” and if they don’t come and visit… you’ll know it ain’t right.


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