Opinion: Ache on the pump is actual for a lot of space drivers

Staff photo by Jay Greeson / Rochelle Parker Rochelle Parker of Brainerd: “I pretty much don’t go out or do anything other than work and go home.”

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Staff photo by Jay Greeson / Tricia Blair Tricia Blair of Ringgold, Georgia: “Our gas expenses have doubled to the point that we now only use two cars for three drivers in our household.”

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Staff photo by Jay Greeson/Andrew Walker Andrew Walker of Chattanooga: “There’s nothing, but I certainly have less disposable income right now.”

No matter where you go or who you talk to, you can’t avoid the heat these days.

Could be the scorching hot temperatures causing the devil’s minions on earth to seek shade and long for their homes.

Could be the red-hot Atlanta Braves, unbeaten in June.

Or it could be the rising gas prices that are making us all red-hot.

Motorists filling up at five gas stations in five parts of Hamilton County said this week the pain at the pump is all too real. And that makes her really hot.

“That’s outrageous,” Rochelle Parker said while pumping unleaded at Circle K on East Brainerd Road for $4.29 a gallon.

Chattanooga Times Free Press business editor Dave Flessner recently reported that average fuel prices in Chattanooga rose 15.8 cents per gallon for regular gasoline and rose to a record high of $4.55 per gallon. Local gas prices have risen nearly 45 cents a gallon over the past month and are now $1.80 a gallon higher than when the summer travel season began a year ago, he wrote.

Parker said she drives to her mother’s house every morning to get her car for work at McKee Foods because Parker’s car runs at Premium, which is over $5 a gallon these days.

She was one of the few area residents to say they manage fuel costs with car swapping or carpooling.

“We have three drivers and we only use two cars,” said Ringgold’s Tricia Blair while filling up at The Market in Ooltewah, where unleaded was $4.45 a gallon. “We cannot afford to keep three cars on the road. I work in home health care so I have to drive. My son (Carson) and his buddies take turns driving, and my husband carpools to work when he can.”

Andrew Walker, who works at Mark Spain Realty, usually drives his truck. Not now. He drives his girlfriend’s Hyundai because it has much better fuel economy than the truck.

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“Yeah, I’m grateful she let me borrow it,” he said as he stopped to gas at Weigel’s on Highway 153, where you could buy unleaded for $4.19 a gallon, the lowest number I’ve seen – and $4.09 with a Weigels Club card. “I haven’t really changed any trips (this summer), but I didn’t have any planned.”

For Terry Smith, who got a little over 3 gallons for $15 at the Highway 58 Speedway – where unleaded was $4.57 – the prices are staggering. But she accepts the steep climbs and keeps an eye on budget constraints.

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“I’m just trying to go with the flow,” said Smith, who lives in Collegedale. “We must all have gas. So I won’t bother about it.

Well, that’s a casual approach. Maybe Terry is a big Braves fan.

Contact Jay Greeson at [email protected] or 423-757-6273. Follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson

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