Here's the Scoop: June 11, 2008

A real turnoff
Like most people, I am frustrated and angered by the spiraling rise in oil/gas prices. Do I think it’s all a scam? Yes. But my conspiracy theories don’t help fill the gas tank.
Long before prices started cranking up about every 15 minutes, I always believed in driving fuel efficient cars. And not keeping the thermostat at 82 degrees.
It’s finally becoming clear that many folks who were driving vehicles the size of a football field are “trading down” for rigs that can be filled for less than an entire week’s paycheck. Still, one has to wonder if drivers could be doing more to cut gas usage.
Here at the News, we have a pretty good view of what happens on Main Street. I don’t always like what I see. Or hear.
For some unexplained reason, there are a startling amount of folks who didn’t get the memo: When you let your car sit running on the street for 10 minutes, you’re wasting fuel (money), polluting and damaging your vehicle. The rule of thumb is that if your vehicle is going to idle for more than 30 seconds, it’s far better — for your pocketbook and the world — to shut it off.
Even without the scientific statistics backing up this statement, I thought more people would make the simple connection: If my vehicle is running, it’s costing me money. Not the case.

Source of irritation
As some things do, this situation has struck a nerve with me. So, I’ve become the Petroleum Products Robin Hood. Basically, I’m trying to keep the oil companies from “robbin’” us quite as much.
My tactic is simple: When someone is silly enough to leave a vehicle running, I turn them off. I think if this little plan becomes commonplace, it can become “key” in cutting fuel costs.
Of course, it would be much easier if drivers simply turned off their ignitions themselves. But for many motorists, the process of turning the key seems to the equivalent of running a marathon. For whatever reason, they just can’t do it. So I help them.
Ironically, since warm weather has arrived, it’s easy to turn off most vehicles. Reach in through the window and the job is done. Unless there’s a big dog in there. Note to those who want to jump on the ignition-stoppers bandwagon: check for the presence of canines.
Along with the chance of having my arm chomped by oil company-sympathizing animals, it’s probably more dangerous to reach into the vehicle of a tobacco fan. That second-hand smoke is quite harsh.
Even though I’m making my keys-off quest public here, I prefer to keep my “good deeds” hidden from the offending drivers. Some of them don’t really appreciate having their private vehicle space invaded. I understand this, but I’m concerned about the greater good and I must carry on.
An added benefit of turning off these vehicles is to watch the confused looks on many of the faces of the folks who I’ve “keyed” in on. One can almost hear them muttering, “Geez, didn’t I leave my polluting, money-wasting vehicle running when I got out?”
Despite my vigilence, I’m noticing a trend of repeat offenders. I’m considering taking the keys completely, if these folks don’t start changing their ways. But I guess I have to draw the line on my fanaticism — I don’t want to be craving a key to my jail cell.