Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Danny Goodman’s head flew back as he erupted in laugher Friday at the sight of a cardboard car pulling up to the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A.
The Salisbury resident couldn’t help but chuckle when he saw five college students driving the vehicle Flintstone-style, powering it with their feet.
And Goodman wasn’t the only one tickled by the scene. People slowed down to snap photos and shoot video as Cody Holstein, Jordan Cummings, Josh Cummings, Andrew Davis and Gareth Cobb made their way down Innes Street in the handmade car.
“It’s a fun way to protest the high gas prices because we’re just a bunch of poor college kids,” said Holstein, who attends Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
Josh Cummings, a Catawba student, said the men, who all work in the kitchen at Chick-fil-A, are always coming up with ideas for projects, but he boasts this one as the “best one yet.”
It took about five weeks to get the motorless car on the road. The men used PVC pipes to build a frame before securing the cardboard body. Duct tape and zip ties held it all together.
Cobb said the labor was worth it to make a statement.
“Our paychecks basically go in our gas tanks,” he said. “Gas prices keep going up, and it’s not going to stop. Something’s got to be done so us little people have got to do what we can.”
The average gas price in North Carolina was $3.88 per gallon on Friday, according to AAA. Nationwide that figure was $3.92, up 32 cents from a year ago. listed gas prices ranging from $3.74 to 3.86 per gallon Friday in Salisbury.
Goodman said although his initial reaction was laughter, he thinks the cardboard car is a “good way to get the point across” about gas prices.
“It’s neat,” he said. “I thought this was some kind of college prank at first, but I like it.”
Carroll Cooke of Rockwell smiled as the men rolled past Sam’s Car Wash on their way to the drive-thru windows at Hardee’s, McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell.
“I think it’s great that they would devote some time to building this and get out and let people know and understand what they’re trying to do,” he said. “If it keeps going up, by the time they get to be middle-aged, gas will be $8 or $9 a gallon.
Cooke said he blames “too much bureaucracy” for the climbing gas prices.
“The government’s got their hands in everything else, so they’re going to put their hands in this, too,” he said. “We need to start oil drilling in the United States to get away from foreign oil so we can control prices.”
Brenda Carter of Lexington said she was glad to see the young men take up the cause. She drives about 40 miles a day to work at Rowan Regional Medical Center, a job she’s held down for about two decades.
“It’s horrible. … I probably spend about $500 a month on gas,” she said. “It’s gotten outrageous, it really has.”
Carter said with her husband retired, the family lives on a fixed income and struggles when gas prices go up. “Sometimes you’ve got to decide on either medicine or food,” she said. “A lot of people are concerned about what’s going on.”
Alexandria Lance, an eighth-grader from Georgia who was passing through Salisbury on the way to Washington, D.C., for a history club competition, said even though she’s too young to drive, the effects of rising gas prices aren’t lost on her. Higher gas prices mean more carpooling and sometimes simply not being able to make it to extracurricular activities.
“My mom talks about it all the time. She says they are way too high,” she said.
But Lance found humor in the situation Friday as the cardboard car rolled into the Burger King parking lot.
“Sexy car,” she yelled. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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