EDITOR'S NOTE: High roller

Aug 20, 2008 at 2:42 am

I was rolling coins the other day. It’s tough to admit, but I was short on money, so I rooted through the junk drawer, from which emerged the rolls, flattened with their greens and oranges and blues studding all the brown-bag brown wrapped in rubber bands. I sat cross-legged on the hardwood floor of my kitchen, plopped a pointer finger in one end and started filling up, fantasizing about how much I’d come away with — $10, $20, $50? 

Boy, that’d really help about now. 

My crisis is long-term: I’m in debt. It’s serious. I went a little crazy with a credit card, and I own a house, a car for which I’m still paying and a list of consumptive habits. I drive everywhere I go. The A/C in my house runs full-tilt, even when it’s 70 degrees outside. I throw away food routinely because I like to know the fridge is full, and on the chance I eat at home five nights some week, I want to be ready. 

There’s no reason for the TV not to be on — regardless of whether I’m watching it. I like to think someone’s there with me even when I’m alone, even if it’s Howie Mandel pressuring some dolt to deny himself a haul of free money on the off chance he might, against mighty odds, have the option to take home even more. It’s the same way it makes me comfortable to have lights on in every room, just in case I need to go in there for some reason. Can you imagine walking into a pitch-black room and trying to find the light? I mean, if you can avoid that, why not? 

I have a decent job, as you know, but this business doesn’t pay enough to keep up. I’m only a month behind on my utility bill right now, which isn’t bad. And I have a credit card specifically for gas, which is, like, $75 a week. And I live in town! And I don’t drive an SUV! Can you imagine? These oil companies, they really need to get with it and help us out.

Oh, that reminds me: I got this e-mail recently from a candidate for Congress named Anne Northrup. Or Northup. I can’t remember. Anyway, she says to sign up on this website to tell Congress to lower gas prices. I had to steal my neighbor’s wireless to get online ’cause the cable company shut mine off for not paying, but I dialed in the other night and signed up, because that seems really sensible. I mean, if I was only paying $25 a week for gas, for example, I could probably get the Internet back. Or maybe some new shoes. Those oil companies, on the other hand, can afford whatever they need — like, say, politicians. 

So Northup is all about drilling for oil somewhere in or near America, which I’m cool with because I need some relief at the pump just like you, and I’ll believe whatever I’m told on that front because it’s just too complicated otherwise. She says the Democrats don’t want to do it, and that petition I signed is supposed to help pressure them to let Congress vote on whether to drill for more oil in America.

Then I got another e-mail from Northup about how Democrats are saying now they’re going to bring a vote on it, so it seems like Northup’s petition worked! I’ve never felt so, like, what’s the word? Involved. But when I got to the bottom of Northup’s e-mail, I was confused again: She’s criticizing Democrats for changing their position, even though that’s what she — and me and apparently a bunch of Republicans — were asking for. Maybe I’m naïve, but if she’s getting what she wanted, why is she still complaining? 

That’s why I really hate politics. Thank God we don’t have to vote or whatever.

Getting back, you’ll be happy to know I rolled up $62 in change. That’s pretty awesome because it’ll pay for a full tank of gas and probably dinner one night. My parents say I should pay off some of my debt, but seriously: How can you do that and keep going forward? And, more importantly, why? 

If I have to roll change here and there, so be it. Same with the oil companies: If they need to drill so politicians like Northup don’t have to ask me to change anything about my life right now, let ’em. We have to prioritize here.