Here I sit typing like mad, in the House McNugget–the travel trailer I reside in with my husband. Corey started work today at his new job–and it’s 85 miles (137 km) northeast of where we have settled in a recreational vehicle park. In order to make it to his job by 5 am, he had to set his alarm for 2:30.
We did a lot of talking about where we would land once we got to West Texas, and decided that we definitely wanted to be here, in Fort Stockton. The town’s population is about 7,000 people, big enough to have a Super Walmart, but small enough that there are only about a dozen stoplights in town. Corey and I met here five years ago, and married a year later; I still have a few friends here. We left in May of 2011, and headed up to Oregon–my job allowed us to live anywhere that I had WiFi and a cell signal, so we took the opportunity to travel.
My recent layoff interrupted our plan to continue to travel. So we’re back again because this is where the money is. Well, not right here, but 80 miles from here. The oil boom seems to have skipped Fort Stockton for now and centered around Midland/Odessa and points north and west of there. The combined population of those two cities is more than 200,000 people, not counting the thousands of oil workers flooding into the area.
The boom has artificially jacked up land prices for miles around that area, and new apartment complexes are sprouting out of the desert dust like weeds… Renting one of the smaller apartments for one month would cost more than we pay for four months here. Even RV parks with spaces to park the House McNugget are double what we’re paying here, if not more, and it’s hard to find an open spot.
As of this morning, Cor will be working every day but Sunday, and probably working 12 hours most days, so we had to get a second vehicle. We decided on a specific budget, and went searching for some older used car that would get Corey back and forth to work and get better gas mileage than the truck we use to tow the House McNugget. We stayed within budget for the car (scout’s honor!) after we got them to drop the price by ten percent and pay for the tax, title and license.
Somehow, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we ended up with a 2004 Lincoln Town Car as shown at right. Seriously, it was the oldest and the cheapest car on the used car lot. Did the math (well, Excel did the math), and if Cor drove the truck to work six days a week for 50 weeks, the cost would be $16,000. The car gets more than double the gas mileage of the truck, and for the same time frame would be $7,680. The car will basically pay for itself.
Even with all that said, I STILL feel vaguely guilty. Had to poke around in my psyche to understand why. I’ve always thought the really huge trucks–for instance, Hummers–are an example of conspicuous consumption. Admittedly without basis, I tend to think of them as the result of the owner’s mid-life crisis, or some material possession power trip, especially the bright red and bright yellow ones. Much of my annoyance with them is that the Hummer original models were based on the HMMWV, the military light armor or unarmored vehicle. When you see those camouflage-painted, dusty images of the trucks, with the big guns or even small missile launchers attached on the top, you know there is a specific purpose for them. I’ve seldom seen a civilian Hummer with dirt on it, and never seen one towing anything. They aren’t built for work, they’re built for display, and much like the peacock’s feathers, are supremely useless otherwise.
I think that my guilt trip also circles around class consciousness. I’m not fond of Marx, and he didn’t use the term much but I’m pretty sure my ingrained sense of what I’m entitled to is still based on my underprivileged youth. I keep hearing this voice saying a luxury car, even one that’s nine years old, is simply not appropriate, too ostentatious, too luxurious.
The voice in my head that tells me such things would, of course, be the one I call Ethel–she disapproves of anything pretty on principle alone. On the other hand, my Brittany side does not give a rat’s patootie, she’s just looking for room for all her sparkly stuff in the car. The trunk is also big enough to hide Ethel’s body, should Brittany snap and smack her with a baton. Or, as she contemplates while tapping a beautifully manicured index finger on her bottom lip, she could hire Dexter to do something less…obvious.
The three noodges are my fates, my furies, my muses–and were introduced in a prior post. I’d also like to welcome my new readers, and say thank you to those who have pressed the “Follow” button at bottom right. So pleased to have you! Hope you have as much fun reading my posts as I do writing them.