Friday, November 09, 2007

The Cost Per Mile

Travel cost per mile is on the rise.

If you live in Texas, those costs may happen on numbered roads. When I tell folks from out of state that we live on “FM 2854,” some have asked if Texans aren’t clever enough to come up with names for roads.

“FM” means “farm to market.” A few ranchers didn’t like the term “farmer,” so some roads are officially noted as “RM” for ranch to market. And when the cities finally crowd pig, goat, and oat farmers off the land, a road can be changed to “UR,” urban road.

Paul Burka gives stats about these numeric roads in Texas Monthly. FM 168 is the longest farm road—140 “straight-arrow miles,” running through cotton and grain fields west of Lubbock, not even touching a town of more than 2,500. Least traveled is FM 2167 in Briscoe County, maxed out at 10 cars per day near Silverton leading to a Boy Scout camp.

Busier than an ant trail, FM 1093 in Houston is the most traveled farm-to-market. An average of 61,000 vehicles a day travels 1093 in front of the Galleria Mall, also known as Westheimer Road. I vote to change the prefix of FM 1093 to UR, urban road.

The cost for traveling these roads is on the rise. Trust me. The price of beans is going up—again. Close to everything we consume is trucked. When I whine about the cost of diesel, most folk don’t realize that eighteen wheelers only get five miles per gallon of fuel. Tugging 80,000 pounds of freight is costly.

When diesel hit the $3.20 mark this week, our company cost was $6.40 for every 10 miles each truck traveled. Those costs didn’t include insurance, equipment cost or maintenance. Have you priced a new Peterbilt lately?

I’m really not complaining, just stating facts. My husband and I breathe prayers of thanks for each safe day on the roads and for each moment our business is in the profit margin. Our pocket book is not hurting nearly so much as those who pay premium prices to drive to minimum wage jobs.

Roads and driving expenses have me thinking about costs in life—especially about the costs of walking with Jesus. Jesus told his disciples to make up a price-list, and he gave the example of house building. A dream home is one thing, the actual pricing of lumber and porcelains is quite another. Before homebuilding, a thoughtful planner lists all the materials and prices. Who wants to lay a foundation, frame up interior rooms and then find that insulation and drying-in materials are too expensive.

For any who follow Jesus’ path, the disciple-cost price-list could be a helpful exercise, for novice Christians and those on church rolls since the printing press. Why not write out a personal price list. What will the next ten years cost to follow Jesus? To follow the same road Jesus traveled, things may need giving up, handed out or reined in.

Some of Jesus’ disciples gave up professions. Others learned the freedom of giving rather than receiving. Some were rejected by family. One woman poured out repentant tears and received forgiveness. Mahatma Gandhi observed, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians, for they are so unlike your Christ.” Then to Gandhi’s India, Mother Teresa came along and gave a better witness to the Christ.

When you travel on the roads near your home—FM, RM, UR—and you think about the cost of fuel these days, also think about your Jesus price-list. What is the cost per mile to follow him?

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1 comment:

  1. Teresa9:36 PM

    Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing!