Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Driving To Get A Slushie

Driving in your car to get a snack is idiotic.

A recent article online, about a young teenager who was unjustly pulled over in a traffic stop and then searched and held for 20 minutes, has generated outrage on the internet.   And indeed, I am outraged too!  The entire thing is completely ridiculous.  Imagine getting in your car to go get a slushie - it's just dumb.

That was the alleged pretext the teen used to borrow his mother's car.  He was going to drive to the store and get a slushie.  For those of you in foreign countries, a slushie is a disgusting American beverage made with chipped ice, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colors.  It takes about ten cents worth of ingredients to make, and they sell it for several dollars.

In terms of your physical health, it is a nightmare.  It is 100% sugar, or more precisely, high fructose corn syrup, which some have claimed can lead to obesity and/or affect your liver.  Plus, it is a cup of 200-300 empty calories.  Just say "No" to slushies - and all soft drinks, for that matter.  They are killing America.

But taking a side the health effects, there are the economic ones.  It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to get in your car to drive to the convenience store to buy a slushie - or any other snack, for that matter.  You're looking at burning $2 to $3 worth of gasoline to go buy a soft drink which costs $2 or so, for a total cost of $5 or more.   For someone living in a bad neighborhood in Louisville struggling to make money after high school, this is economic insanity.

As many people have pointed out, including even The Sooze Orman, $5 a week put into your 401k or IRA account over a working life of 45 years can amount to a couple hundred grand for your retirement.   Imagine if that was $5 a day - you'd have millions!  It is not the big expenses the bankrupt people, but the little tiny ones that, over time, add up to an awful lot of money.

I'm not picking on this particular young man - it's something that a lot of Americans do.  As I noted before, I have friends who will get in their car and drive twenty miles to get breakfast, one of the cheapest and easiest to make meals known to mankind.  It's something that we make everyday for about a dollar a serving, yet they will drive somewhere and spend $10 or more each on breakfast after burning through $5 worth of gasoline.  Things like bacon-and-eggs, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal with yogurt, take only minutes to make and cost pennies.  Yet folks will get up, get showered and dressed, drive 20 minutes, wait in line for 20 more, and then wait yet another 20 for someone else to make these simple meals for them - all at a staggering cost.   I mean, how lazy have we become as a nation?

Similarly, people working at minimum wage jobs will often leave work and then fight traffic for 15 minutes to drive to McDonald's to get lunch, and then spent 15 minutes driving back to work, arriving exhausted.  They wasted about $8 to $10 for a mediocre lunch and also spend two or three dollars - if not more - on gasoline for their car, plus the wear and tear on the vehicle.  At a minimum wage job, this means you work for an hour or two every day just to pay for your lunch. Economically, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Of course, the nominal excuse this young fellow used to borrow his mother's car - to go buy a slushie  - was probably just a story he told his mother in order to borrow the car.  More likely than not, he was going out to hang out with his friends and socialize, which is a normal thing for kids of his age.   And there's nothing wrong or illegal about that, unless you're a young black man living in a bad neighborhood, which case it means you're likely to be pulled over by the police.  This is a predictable outcome, sad as it is to say that.  You can rail against it, call it racist, or whatever.   The deal is, police will always be more suspicious of youth, of minorities, and anyone driving a flashy car in a bad neighborhood.   That will likely never change.

There is, also, the probability that hanging out with friends at the 7-11 can lead to bad things in life.  Hanging out with other young men, whether at the 7-11 or at the fraternity house, often leads to trouble, as they tend to egg each other on to do odious things.   There is just no future in being a drugstore cowboy, as I can attest to from experience.

Yes, in my white suburban hometown, we had kids who "hung out" in front of the drugstore or the convenience store, every evening, socializing with one another and looking for trouble - and often finding it.  We had a name for kids like that - losers.   Hanging out is a waste of your valuable time.  If you want to socialize, why not do it at home, like adults do?  It can keep you out of a lot of trouble - the cops can't pull you over in your bedroom.  Well, it's a lot less likely, anyway.

To this young man's credit, when pulled over, he complied with all of the instructions of the officer even if they seemed unreasonable.   While this "Terry-type" stop would be considered legal, arguably it was not justified.  But arguing with a policeman who has a gun is never a good idea.  Just comply with the officer's commands, and in twenty minutes, you'll be back on your way - assuming, of course, your trunk isn't full of drugs.  Worst case scenario, you get arrested, and a judge tosses the charges later on.

In the meantime I'm going to set up a go-fund-me page to buy this young man a slushie machine so he doesn't have to leave home when he gets the urge.  We all want to see him succeed in life, and he doesn't need the hassle from the police, nor the expense of driving for slushies.

But, his Mom might want to consider moving to a better neighborhood.   This story illustrates how hard it is to get ahead in life, when you live in a crime-ridden poverty area.  Not only will you get hassled more by the cops, the odds are far greater your kids will get involved in criminality.  And we don't want to see that happen to this nice young man.