And then there was this one day...

During a semi-routine check of my bank account's online statement this morning, I noticed two strange charges: $149 and change, each, at some place in California whose name I didn't recognize.

I take it as some kind of sign that my first thought was, "What did I buy for £75? Twice?"

The answer, of course, was nothing: for the second time in my life (and the first time in nearly a decade), I would seem to be victim of credit card fraud. Everything is in process to get things fixed, and I'm less fretful now than I was for the four hours I spent waiting for the bank to open so that I could talk to their fraud specialist (who unfortunately has gotten a bit of a workout this year).

I take it as some kind of sign that the particular locale of my stolen card number's use has been a gas station, and so I offer you today an image of the petrol pump at which we refilled the rental car before returning it. We drove 148 miles yesterday. The fuel cost £18, or around $36. We figure this at about 25¢ per mile driven. By my calculations, this means that any vehicle being driven in the US getting less than 16 mpg is costing its owner about what a tiny Fiat (which got approximately 36 mpg yesterday) would cost in this country.

Apparently, I'm temporarily obsessed with cranking these numbers.

We paid about £4.50 per gallon of petrol this afternoon--or rather, I should say that my soon-to-be-departing friend paid about £4.50 per gallon this afternoon, since my checking account was about to become inaccessible to me, as soon as the bank opened at home and I could get them to stop the card. In other words, gas here is like so many other things here: it costs roughly the same number as at home, and the currency is different and the exchange rate means the price is roughly double. I know that the numbers are roughly the same because I'm keeping track of what's going on with gas prices at home; I only have two months before I rejoin the world of driving. I also know this because the gas station where my card was used fraudulently was (Google revealed) charging $4.20 per gallon yesterday.

No moral to this story. Just a lot of figures. "It's a sign of how bad the economy's gotten," said the friend who went to the bank to pick up the affadavit that needed to be faxed to me so that I could continue the process of getting things sorted. "People are getting desperate."