Battle for Heartland Starts at Gas Pump
He thinks of something his daughter told him: "Man that thing sucks the gas."
"That makes me happy," he says.
He turns his attention back to his own life, the disciplines of which include making a tank of gas in the Ranger last at least 10 days, which he does by limiting himself to a few familiar destinations.
Home to work is a half-mile. Home to the Olympic Family Restaurant, where he eats breakfast three times a week, is seven-tenths of a mile. Home to the Hiawatha Bar and Grill, where he'll work the occasional weekend to make extra money even though the wife showed up a few days ago with a boyfriend, is four-tenths of a mile.
This is what he tries to contain himself to in the course of a tank of gas, even though there are more places he'd like to go.
For instance, he says, he'd like to see his son. "But that's a tank of gas each way."
And he'd like to see his ex-mother-in-law, who told him he is "welcome up there anytime." But up there is St. Germain, 315 miles one way.
And he'd like to see his brother, who lives way over in the Michigan thumb, but that's 400 miles at least.
And "my sister has been bugging me about visiting her." But? "That's over by Iowa."
"Well, I'd like to see California," he says.
Instead he will be heading to a restaurant in Racine called Rooster's, which is 8.15 miles away.
A splurge. But he likes the liver and onions.
And he also likes that the people who run the restaurant will come sit with him so he doesn't have to eat alone.
Life at $1.999:
The Ranger takes 13.757 gallons. The price is $27.50. "I ain't voting for Bush," Pietsch says, getting in his car. How sure is he? The only thing he's surer of, he says, is that the days of $1.999 gasoline in Sturtevant are about to come to an end.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company