Enough with the whining. Find the opportunities.

It was the incessant discussion of per gallon fuel prices that pushed me over the edge.

“I paid $3.49 this morning.”

“You think that’s bad. I tried to fill up at $4.05 and the pump shut off at $100. Couldn’t even fill the tank.”

“The way things are going, the economy is going to crash and the sky will fall.”

Enough already.

Here’s what I think:
    1. Fuel should cost a lot of money.

    2. I am tired of whining.
I’m a pretty smart chick, but I can’t figure out how fuel is priced. The conspiracy theorist in me believes that there is a phone call once a month, attended by scary, powerful people, who decide what fuel prices should be. These are the same folks who keep JFK and Elvis under lock and key, and determine what’s fashionable this season in hemline length.

The realist in me suspects fuel prices are the result of current market forces coupled with corrupt economic and political shenanigans. However, if fuel was traded in a totally free market, it would be very expensive. Clean water would be expensive. These commodities require massive amounts of resources to produce and deliver, ready to go, on tap. We should consume them sparingly. The best way I know to conserve resources: Make using those resources hurt.

The Villa Debris

Once upon a time, Hot Rod and I lived just outside of Whitefish, Mont. We were newly married and thought it awfully romantic to live in the woods in a little cabin - 11 by 13 feet little. We called it the Villa Debris.

It was quaint, built on four toaster-sized rocks for the foundation. We took all of our money - $5,000 at that time - and used it to dig a 300-foot deep hole on our property. It was supposed to be a well, but we never hit water. One of the things I love about plumbers is that they can make water out of nothing. At least that’s what Hot Rod can do.

He set up a rain-collection system of gutters and stored the water in a concrete cistern. He found a 700-gallon glass-lined dairy tank. We cleaned it out and used it as a back-up water tank. We pumped water from our stream into that tank.

Around August, the rain and the stream dried up. One night, Hot Rod and I snuck onto a neighbor’s property and poached water from their still-flowing stream, using a gas-powered pump. I’m not proud of it, but we did laugh pretty hard trying to muffle the sound of that pump engine.

Hot Rod did an amazing job of configuring those tanks with pipe and pumps to make it seem like we had water on tap. We lived in a very civilized way when you consider we were wrangling and hauling every drop of water we used.

We figured out how to get by on very little water. For drinking water, we hauled 5-gallon containers we filled up in town, at the gas station, a friend’s house, wherever we could get potable water.

Hurting Helps

Back then I could make 5 gallons of water last a week. Now that I have water on tap, I just don’t conserve like that anymore. I let the water run while I answer the phone. I soak in a Buick-sized bathtub. I will take three trips into town if I forget something on the first two.

Water is heavy - 8 pounds per gallon. When I had to haul it, I made it last. When gas goes to $5 per gallon, I’ll get my errands done in one trip.

Some people live “green” because they believe in their hearts it is the right thing to do. It would make them sick to throw out a glass bottle. It haunts them to see paper tossed in the trash instead of the recycle bin.

Hot Rod is like that. I admire him for it and he inspires me to be more conservative. However, when it hurts, you will get my full attention. I think most folks are like me. Sky-high fuel prices will cause people to conserve. I can live with that. We’ll figure it out. We always do.

Which leads me to my new No-Whining Rule.

I was teaching a seminar recently and the coffee break talk was all about rising fuel prices. I snapped. I’ve had it. Unless you are going to run for office or become a lobbyist, what are you going to do about it? Complain? Gripe? Whine? Not to me.

I’m a fairly happy-go-lucky girl. Prior to now, I have thought it was funny to go for the complaining “Ain’t life a drag” cheap chuckle. I would comment about my crazy travel schedule or bad customer service experiences.

Now I’m catching myself when I start to kvetch. I am bored with whining and I don’t want to do it anymore. And I don’t want to hear your whining, either. We are blessed to live like we do. We have achieved a level of prosperity and freedom that 90 percent of the world doesn’t enjoy. We are swimming in opportunity; I’m for not complaining.

Stop The Whining

I’m jumping on the Reverend Will Bowen’s bandwagon. Reverend Will is a preacher from Kansas City who started the purple wristband reminder program to help people quit complaining. (Check outwww.acomplaintfreeworld.com.)

Will had an epiphany one day in the shower. He was worn down by his churchgoers’ trivial complaints: about the weather, the choice of hymns during service, blah, blah, blah. So he asked his flock to take a pledge: to swear off whining, complaining, criticizing, gossiping or using sarcasm for 21 days. As a reminder, those who take the pledge agree to wear a purple  plastic wristband. Should they fall off the wagon, they switch the wristband to the other wrist and start the 21 days over. So far, almost 6 million people have taken the pledge.

Here’s my addition to the movement. If you start whining to me, I will hold up three fingers in the shape of a “W.” This is a reminder and a warning to stop “W”hining. I flash the “W” for your first offense. Whine again and I will tack on $5. The dollar penalty goes up from there.

Do we know that the economy will crash (the sky will fall, the earth will melt, the hair will frizz) if fuel prices go to $10 per gallon? People will continue to trade with each other as long as there is any possible way to do that. And you are the one to expand the opportunities in fuel efficiency.

Paging throughPlumbing & Mechanical, you see the groovy, fuel-efficient heating equipment coming to the United States from the European markets. Fuel is more than $5 per gallon there. The emissions regulations are tough. Water usage is tightly regulated, too. Europeans have had to conserve and they have responded with some amazing solutions.

You are in the best position to capitalize on the demand for low-impact plumbing and heating solutions. What’s there to whine about?

Ready to take the “No Whining” pledge? Order the purple wristband or get ready to flash the “W.” See only the opportunities and let the griping go. Focus on what you want and watch as more of that enters your life.