Meanwhile, this post is a little off-topic from my usual, but I just wanted to share something out of the ordinary that happened yesterday. It is either funny or scary depending on how you look at it, and I realize it’s pretty minor, so I am trying to laugh about it. But it was a tad scary and did make me think.
My husband and father both follow the commodities markets pretty regularly, and lots of friendly arguments usually ensue regarding what each thinks oil, gas, and related markets may do, both in the long term and short term. I am usually a semi-interested bystander for these debates, which is to say that I sometimes offer my thoughts, but more often let these conversations flow around me while I’m doing something more fun, like cooking :-)
But anyway, I am
I rarely let my gas tank get truly low, before I stop for gas. This is typically because I
As a side note, and you all know how this goes - I had not yet showered for the day (long story), so I looked pretty grungy. I was also looking forward to having a nice happy hour beverage upon returning home, and continuing with my (interrupted) organization projects and pile-o-laundry, so I was not in the mood for a lengthy trip anywhere.
My (first) stop was at our corner BP. I pulled in and noticed that all the pumps were out of service. Thinking this a bit odd, but not really concerned, I took off for the Quiktrip down the street.
Upon arrival at the QT, I saw that their pumps were also out of service. I was a more than a little surprised by that, and more than a little alarmed, because now I had an actual problem: I had no gas to get to another gas station at this point. Our area is pretty suburban and things are spread out, to the point where I do not even know where the next closest station would be...these stations are both on my work route and it’s very rare that I would need to stop elsewhere. I also did not know what the issue was, and thought it might be some kind of regulatory/county-imposed outage, so I went inside to inquire. The nice (and very patient) gentleman working the register informed me that “everyone around here is out of gas.” I was stunned - I’ve simply never seen all of our stations run out before in normal circumstances (when there are no real supply disruptions in our area, etc.). More alarming was that “everyone” - because my car did not have enough gas to even get home at this point. He did say they were getting a delivery, and I could wait if I wanted, about half an hour. So I (thankfully) thought to go ahead and pull into a pump bay and waited...and waited...and watched, as the station QUICKLY began to fill up with similarly aggravated folks who did never intended to spend hours waiting for gas. It’s just very unexpected and unusual around here for any station, especially in our area, to run out.
The story would not be nearly as interesting, except for what happened next. So they finally cut the pumps back on, and by now, cars are three to four deep at every bay. It’s a large QT, with about 24 pumps, so you can imagine the mob scene. I say mob in the generic sense, but people were definitely antsy, which was a little unsettling. I wanted to take a photo with my phone, but I was actually afraid I might annoy someone (people were getting testy) and I did not want to push it.
So anyway, the pumps came alive and everyone started pumping as fast as they could. Of course, that demand slowed the actual fueling at each (already slow) pump to a crawl, which only annoyed people further. Meanwhile, not to be outdone in this little derby, I rushed through the process of swiping my card, etc. and set about trying to start the pump. And you just know what's coming next... but ... wait for it... waiiiitttt...
Yep, it wouldn’t engage. Now, the procedure for filling a gas tank hasn’t changed a lot since I was 16, and I’ve had a fair bit of practice in the meantime, so I knew it wasn’t me. I quickly called the poor attendant (who was running around taking the plastic bags off the pumps) and she came over, only she could not get it to work either. She ran inside to find her manager, and by this point I was having visions of that single tanker load of gas being guzzled up before I could even START to fill my tank, because how was I going to get in another line at this point? The station was already bumper-to-bumper, with more people coming in by the minute. There was barely room to leave when you were ready.
Several minutes later the girl comes back and says her manager said there is nothing that they can fix; the pump will have to be examined. She suggested I get in another line. Now those of you who know me well, know what’s coming next. I did not think much of that suggestion, since I was literally one of the first three people to pull in at the pumps in the first place. I was not in the mood by this point to wait in another three-deep line (it was taking about 15 minutes to fill a standard tank) only to have, as I feared, the gas run out before I could get any. So I managed to restrain what I really wanted to say, and politely told her that was not going to be workable, and she’d need to get her manager to come out and hold back the tide of angry motorists and find me a pump :-).
(Wisely, she decided to run back into the station as fast as her feet would carry her.)
Our tale of (minor) woe ends happily, as the manager did make an appearance, and a very kind and patient looking Japanese gentleman did allow me to back up to the pump behind mine and fill up. I kept apologizing to him, because it was running soooooooooo slowly that I just knew he must be ready to run me over. But anyway, this entire experience of spending (literally) an hour trying to simply get gas really got me thinking. We don’t live in a hugely populous area. I mean, it’s a thriving county, but we’re not downtown or anything. And pf course I know plenty of others have had far worse experiences than mine, and may have even lived through the 70's gas shortages. But it was just very interesting to me (once I got away from the mob, which was just plain scary) to see all this unfold. One guy’s car died on him while he was sitting at the pump, and he had to be pushed out of the way. He was being very vocal and pushy even before his car died, and that sort of put him over the edge. Another guy had an experience like mine, where his pump wouldn’t work when they turned them back on. But really, this is crazy. I guess it’s what we have to look forward to, if we can’t figure out how to become energy-independent. I mean, I certainly realize there have been intermittent supply issues all over the country. We just haven’t seen it often in our neck of the woods so it took be a bit by surprise.
Anyway, hope no one else is having fuel problems. That was an eye opener for me, just in the sense that I need to be more careful about relying on the gas station to have gas when I need it!!
(And next time, Mom, I swear I’ll take a shower before I leave the house!)
Hope everyone had a great weekend.