My pick of cartoons last week was done by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It shows a tax preparer asking a couple in his office: “Would you like your refund automatically sent to your gas station?”

Last week I had to drive to San Antonio. I saw a sign on a gas station that said $1.69.9 a gallon. I drove in to get some reasonable gas only to learn the guy putting the prices up got one of the 9’s upside down. It was $1.99.9 (which is really $2.00).

That was more than I wanted to pay. Two hours later when we set out for San Antonio I stopped to get some of that $1.99 gas. In that short time the price had zoomed up to $2.15. And this time the numbers were correct.

On the drive to San Antonio we stopped at Junction on IH-10 for a sandwich and gas was $2.25. A sign of things to come.

Upon my arrival in San Antonio gas was selling for $1.99, but I was too busy to fill up and as usual paid more the next morning. Now, a mere seven-cent rise in price per gallon is not a catastrophe. But the trend toward higher gas prices is disconcerting to my budget. Added to all the other rising prices, gas prices are devastating my pocketbook.

I keep reading how gas is so much more expensive in England and Europe. And that we have the cheapest gas in the world. And according to inflation estimates, we paid more for gas 25 years ago.

None of that means anything to my pocketbook. One good thing is my 2001 Olds gets over 20 miles to the gallon. A friend has a car that gets 50 miles to the gallon, but it is a tad tiny with a tin body held together with duck tape.

There are possibly two good things that can come out of this onslaught of high petrol prices. One, American car makers may quit making these huge SUV tanks and mammoth pick-up trucks. Hopefully high prices will keep more of those monster vehicles off the road.

Pulling out of a parking lot beside one of those behemoths is taking your life in your hands. You can’t see if anyone is coming or going. You pull out in traffic with fingers and toes crossed and a prayer on your lips.

The other good thing that could come from higher gas prices is for auto makers to get serious about fuel-efficient cars. They just do the least they can to abide by the law. The public would be better served if the car makers would put money into fuel-efficient vehicles and less on useless gadgets and television advertising.

How many of us are going to drive on rugged mountain roads and through the Grand Canyon like they do on TV. Why buy a Mack truck or Hummer to take the kids to soccer practice? We are a land of sheep. Just follow the leader, keep up with the Joneses. How nice it would be if we could just be content with what we have.

“I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Philippi. He mentioned having lived in prosperity and in want. His journey of life was filled with good times and bad. (He had been in a number of Roman jails, shipwrecked and almost a victim of an assassin’s plot.)

Paul was not harassed by SUVs or higher gas prices, but he still had to deal with the nitty-gritty of life. He had his frustrations and failings, but he wisely took his complaints to God and moved on. He would have been a far better columnist than anyone writing today. His message to this old would-be columnist is be content with what you have. Enjoy life Along the Way and quit complaining.

Britt Towery is a retired missionary whose “Along the Way” column runs each Friday in the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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