During our first trip to Ireland in 2005, someone on the plane had a medical crisis that necessitated an emergency landing. We were over Canada when the pilot announced he needed to jettison fuel from the wings to quickly bring the plane down in Winnipeg. After we landed and the passenger was evacuated, everyone had to remain in their seats for over an hour while the plane refueled on the tarmac. Although the delay caused us to miss our connecting flight, we were grateful to be able to say “we just flew in from Canada” when someone would tiptoe around inquiring whether or not we were Americans, and, if so, supporters of the Bush administration.
For the first half of our stay, we relied on an excellent public transportation system in Dublin, and on through the south as we made our way to the rugged western coast. Our seats on trains and buses allowed us time to get used to the traffic flow and roundabouts before actually driving on the opposite side of the road. (Which, by the way, seems to make a lot of sense once you’ve done it!)
Ireland does a wonderful job leveling the vehicular playing field by encouraging (and, in fact, incentivizing) the purchase and rental of smaller more economical automobiles. We’d reserved a Toyota Yaris (or equivalent) for pickup in Shannon to continue our trip north to Donegal through a more remote part of the country. When we arrived for the rental, we were greeted with profuse apologies and told that only a larger, American-style SUV was available. At that time, their price for gas in U.S. dollars was equal to $4.78 per gallon. The agency honored our original rental rate, but we spent much more than we’d anticipated for gas.
Now that we’re facing the undeniable effects of global warming, largely driven by our consumption of fossil fuels, can we really complain at the pump? One of my sons said a friend of his recently posted a comment that the price of gas should be the amount that compels a person to consider other options. Well said. When other options may be limited, we can (and must!) at least make a thoughtful and diligent effort to use much less. This morning I found myself considering the cost incurred in delivering the mango I was about to cut up to my kitchen counter.