Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

October 2005


It seems that every industry has its own way of unitizing its products.

Grams, ounces, pounds, hundredweight, tons, pints, gallons, quarts, barrels, inches, feet, square feet, yards, board feet, cubic feet, horsepower, kilos, megabytes, miles, acres, kilowatts, petite, small, medium, large, extra large or my personal favorite, XXL.

For the past couple of decades, I’ve been into words, column inches, picas, em spaces, dingbats, issues, articles, cutlines and jump heads.

I’m struck by the fact that the generalized standard that allows all industrial outputs to be measured against all other outputs is money, or at least, value. You’ve seen lots of examples of these comparisons - the costs of a loaf of bread as a percentage of the minimum wage over a period of time, that sort of thing. As consumers, we’re all finding different ways of getting our heads around the price of gasoline.

When I was a college student (almost halfway back into the last century) a gallon of gas cost about the equivalent of five Hershey bars or a pack of Camels (25 cents). I can remember stopping for gas at Fat Fitz’s Sunoco station in Wellesley Lower Falls, Mass., on my way to classes in Chestnut Hill (about a 15-mile trip) one day. Johnny Nugent, AKA Scrooge, often hooked a ride with me. When I asked him to chip in for gas, he gave me a dime.

By the time I was a young married, my first brand new car, a VW bug, cost about a penny a mile in gasoline.

As I flew around the country back in the day, to use the current cliché, air fares usually calced out at around seven cents a mile: Boston to LA, a little over $200, for instance.

So here I am trying to cope with $60 fill-ups - aah, the glory of an SUV!

Five Hershey bars still cost about the same as a pack of Camels, but now you can get a gallon of gas and two Hershey bars instead of the Camels, which you really should have stopped buying, anyway.

So the question becomes not how can you afford gasoline when it’s north of three bucks a gallon, but what the heck did you do with all that money in your kick when gas was only a buck, buck-fifty or two? Obviously, one thing I did was ditch the bug and get a hog, which took me from a penny a mile to 15 cents. I could reverse field, of course, but that would only get me down to a dime. I can still fly. I’m going to the Broncos-Patriots game in Denver this month. Air fare is about $130 one way or still around seven cents a mile. However, a beer and nachos at half-time go for about 20 Hershey bars.

Here’s the deal: Keep your tires properly inflated, minimize idle time, plan your trips, skip the joy rides, drive the speed limit, use a cash-back card when possible, and if you give a ride to Nuge the Scrooge, get at least a buck off him.

I could go on but I’m trying to keep my words per column to under 500.