Joe Pisani (opinion): Gas pumps fuel some old-fashioned American anger

Paul Tong

The best way to find out the “mood of America” is pumping gas at your local service station or standing in the checkout line of the supermarket. That’s where you’ll get pure, unadulterated, unvarnished public opinion, more accurate than anything from Quinnipiac, Pew or Marist polls. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say on the open range.

The “mood of America” is a professional journalist’s term, and not everyone is authorized to use it. I assure you that whenever I wrote a story about “the mood” of someplace, I never imposed my own mood on the mood of the people. I was objective, impartial, unbiased, uninhibited.

Lately, I sense anger in the land. On Sunday, I was at the gas station, minding my own business, when an 83-year-old geezer — this is not fake news — poked his head around the pump and started cussing.

He was wearing a mask even though there was no mask mandate. To my thinking, anybody who wears a mask when they’re not being threatened with imprisonment is a law-abiding patriot worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom ... unless, of course, they’re wearing a ski mask in the bank lobby.

“Do ya know how much this gas has gone up!?!” he yelled. “About 30 cents a gallon!”

His hooting and hollering reminded me of the energy crisis in the 1970s. Back then, he was probably swinging a tire iron at anyone who tried to cut in front of him in the gas lines, and I bet he had one of those infamous bumper stickers that said, “Carter can kiss my gas.”

I want to stress that this was only one guy’s opinion. I’m absolutely convinced there are people who think differently, and they’re the ones who cheerfully fill up their tanks no matter the cost and force the station attendant to take an extra $20 to contribute to the national infrastructure repair fund. They deserve a Medal of Freedom too.

Eventually, the guy started grumbling about grocery prices. He swore that his monthly bill has gone up $147. I can attest to that because my wife has a hissy fit every time she comes home from the supermarket, along with everyone else — rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, and Communist.

Food prices, gas prices and taxes are rising, but it doesn’t bother me because I pride myself on being a tax-loving, forward-thinking citizen. If I didn’t love taxes so much, I’d move out of Connecticut.

We also own two hybrids I bought to teach my family about the importance of saving our planet ... even though some crazy in a monster truck always tries to run me off the road when I’m driving my Prius.

The fellow at the pump started complaining about our political leaders, but I didn’t get into that because I’m an anti-political person who believes politicians create more problems than they solve, but that’s a story for another day.

The FBI has probably targeted this guy as a national security risk and a member of QAnon or one of those Anon recovery groups.

When he started grousing about Social Security, I reminded him we’re getting a 5.9 percent adjustment in 2022, which will bring the system a year closer to collapsing, so the youngsters of America better apply for all those open jobs and start doing their part to save the fund.

We geezers are obsessed with our Social Security checks. If we love them so much, we should stay away from the slot machines at Mohegan Sun. I don’t care how good the buffet is.

As I was about to leave, the fellow looked at me with a wild-eyed stare and growled, “We’re headed for a real crisis in this country! There’s not enough toilet paper!” That got my attention. A toilet paper shortage is worse than a gas shortage. He said there’s a rush on toilet paper and the shelves are emptying fast.

Will Joe Biden ration toilet paper the way Jimmy Carter rationed gas? He’ll probably develop a plan so that on odd days, people whose names begin with A to M get a few sheets, and on even days, people whose names start with N to Z get their potty ration. Let’s be fair to all Americans. We certainly don’t want rich celebrities hoarding all the Charmin.

This a national emergency like the border crisis, and no matter what Greta Thunberg tells you, we can’t recycle toilet paper. At least I don’t think we can ... what does the science say?

Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at