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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

How To
AAA Gas-Saving Tips: Updated for the Coming Oil Apocalypse

by Anthony Jaffe

If a master plan is quickly adopted on a global scale, the world can safely cope with a peak in oil production and create a more sustainable and enjoyable economy at the same time. If we ignore these changes and peak oil does occur, the unforeseen consequences could create a far darker world.

Time magazine

• Routine maintenance is one of the best ways to maximize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Make sure your tires are inflated to factory specifications, change the air filter twice a year, and drain and replace your engine oil every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Do this in the privacy of your locked garage. Tell no one you have precious oil to spare. No one!

• Of course, fuel efficiency is ultimately meaningless during a running battle with the wild-eyed marauders who roam your subdivision. If you’re a multi-car family, decide which car is less susceptible to attack, and use it as your primary transportation. Some things to consider: Can scrap-metal shielding be easily welded to the frame? How well does it drive on its rims? Will the roof support a crude turret from which the smaller members of your family can hurl arrows, rocks, and homemade incendiary devices? Try using your other, more fuel-efficient automobiles for emergency trips only. Better yet, barter them for canned food, firewood, or the safe return of loved ones.

• No matter what or where you drive, avoiding quick starts and sudden stops will improve your gas mileage significantly. When approaching a roadblock of felled trees or livestock carcasses, maintain a smooth and steady speed as you drive over or through the impediments and those who placed them there.

• Be wary of gas station signs with inviting messages like “Yes, yes, of course we have gas, just come inside and enjoy a free snack first!” and “Get your Nascar collectible lighters here!” These are the work of cannibalistic highwaymen who are crouched in the snack aisle, trembling in anticipation of your arrival. You will find no gas here. Nor any snacks or lighters. Rest assured that in these gas stations, you will only find that “full service” takes on alarming new implications.

• Don’t waste fuel driving around for the lowest gas prices (see above item). But always be ready to inspect the smoldering wreckage of someone else’s vehicle. If they were unlucky enough to be attacked and carted away for the amusement of your local warlord or chieftain, there may be sweet gasoline left for you! Always keep plenty of approved gas containers on hand, and make sure your children know to wash their hands and mouths after siphoning—in the rare event you have something for them to eat.

• Retire your gas-powered lawnmower and encourage your family to graze instead (see above item).

• Some “neighborly” advice: Avoid all your neighbors, especially those that have adapted to this oil-starved dystopia all too eagerly. These include the former Pilates instructors, brand managers, and Java programmers who can be seen driving armored dune buggies outfitted with harpoons and crossbows. These are the heretofore gentle citizens who now favor Mohawk haircuts and necklaces of human fingers. They typically wear leather chaps and studded vests in the summer, pelts and horned helmets when the air turns crisp; yet they are clearly not going clubbing. If your neighbors make any chummy inquiries about the state of your gasoline supply, dispatch them immediately with the sword you fashioned from the blades of your lawnmower.

• Conserve fuel by consolidating errands in the rubble-strewn wasteland that was once your town. This won’t be difficult. You are almost assuredly unemployed. There is no food in the smoldering concrete shell that used to be your local supermarket, and your children no longer have soccer practice, for the bloodthirsty mutants who live in the park now enjoy a sport that involves large branches and a human head. It is advisable, really, that you don’t drive anywhere at all.

Road Warrior

Anthony Jaffe is is a writer in Atlanta.