THE FIFTH COLUMN
I enjoy it when writers make an effort to write headlines. Like the headline “Petrol price spills over R17/litre mark” I noticed on a leading news website while lying in bed the other night. In fact, that headline was so strong, it was the only one my partner saw (and reacted to badly) when she looked over my shoulder.
My immediate reaction was to think of ways to combat the grave injustice of the petrol price. Walk more? An option. Another was to tighten up the measures I already had in place.
I try to keep the revolutions of my engine (the revs, I believe) under three, assuming it would cut down on fuel consumption based on the premise that everything, including me, is moving slower. I might lower it to two and see how that goes.
Another method I employed with great success until the fuses of my Citi Golf started blowing out was to stop the engine at a red robot and start it up again as soon as it turned green. It’s a great technique I can highly recommend if your car has an ignition to stomach it. It’s going to feel strange at first, like the car had broken down, but just ease into it.
Soon, you’ll be rolling down hills with the engine off (use the handbrake to slow down; the brakes don’t work when the car’s dead) and even shut it down in heavy traffic (blissfully quiet, like sitting in your lounge).
Ironically, all the latest cars already do the trick automatically, saving the high-income individuals who drive them a ton of cash, but let’s not worry about them for now.
On to the next way I cut down on travel stress: knowing how far I can drive when the petrol light is on. My Golf has shown remarkable stamina over the years, travelling an average of 30km on supposed “fumes”. I find it handy to mark the spot where the light came on as a reference — a fruit stall, intersection, bus stop — anything you can count the distance back to for peace of mind.
What I don’t recommend doing to save on travelling costs is getting up in the middle of the night to fill up before the price goes up. My partner suggested it on that cold night we learnt of the latest hike and I straight up refused.
Get out of bed and put my clothes on. Walk through the house to the front door. Switch on the outside light. Imaginary daughter comes out of her room: “What’s going on, daddy? Where are you going?” “Don’t worry, honey. Go back to bed.” Make it to the station. They’re out of petrol. Make it to another station. Fill up the last quarter of my tank. Save R10. Tip the guy R10 because it’s late at night. Go back home.
“Nope,” I told my partner. “That’s crazy talk.”