Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 1:55 PM
Subject: price shock in the south
St. Simons Island, Georgia
First, a little about where I live...I live on a small island just off the coast of South Georgia. I'm about half way between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville FLA. We were the site of the G-8 Summit in '04 or 05 (can't remember now). This community is one of extremes-a large amount of very wealthy people and a large amount of very poor people. Most of the poor people live over on the mainland (Brunswick) and a few of the extremely wealthy live on Sea Island. You need a pass to even get on that island, even tho we're all connected by causeways. I'm one of the few middle income people that can actually afford to live on St. Simons, because I was very lucky that my parents retired here before it became too popular. I live in what I fondly refer to as the "White Trash Trailer Park" on SSI. It really is the cheapest place to live here and pretty much everything I need is within walking distance except for my job. I work as a teacher and my daily commute is roughly 40 miles. I bought a new car when the prices went up the first time (oh for the 2.00/ gal price again!) and I'm having to seriously reconsider my work options now. It just took me nearly 50.00 to fill up my car, and I drive a small Chevy Cavalier! As teachers, we are in an infamously cheap school district-we make considerably less than teachers at other districts-we have lousy benefits, etc. I'm looking to try to confine my entire life to basically a five square mile area so I don't have to drive anywhere. There's no such thing as public transportation around here-people have been making noises about starting a bus service, but neither the city or the county is in any position to pay for it, so we probably won't have much change on that front. Nobody car pools either. I brought it up to some of the other people at my school-as a way for all of us to save some money, but all I got was blank stares.
I'll have to try to get a job at one of the two private schools here. Neither pay nearly as much as the school district does. Everywhere else the gas is 'only' 4.45/ gal. Here, it ranges from about 4.45-4.80, depending on where you buy it. We are not close to a pipeline, according to someone I know who has all these weird little facts stored in his head, so its more expensive to get it here than elsewhere. Sounds like b.s. to me, but I'm tired of arguing about the politics of it with ignorant people.
The cost sure hasn't changed too many driving habits here-this area is full of monster SUV's (Hummers, Land Rovers, and the like). People still drive them around all over here. They can afford it and they basically don't care...
Food prices have skyrocketed too-there's nowhere to get food that is inexpensive any more. I'm starting a garden here, but with the drought the last couple of years, nothing much grows but weeds.
More fires in the woods out to the west of us. The air has a sick smoky quality that never quite goes away. Makes it hard to be outside at all, much less to go on foot to the store.
I'm from Upstate NY originally-I'm really missing it-trust me. Anyone who tells you its better down here is lying to you. I'm hoping to save enough money to go back soon, if things don't improve down here. I need a city I can walk, clean air to breathe, and a place where alternative energy isn't something that only the 'granolas' do. More later...
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.