Sunday, September 28, 2008

Running On Empty

Photo from Wayne State Univ. 2004

For the first and hopefully only time in my life I am walking up to numerous strangers asking the indelicately phrased question, "Do you have gas?"

It's a valid question. I got to Atlanta on Thursday night in time for my friend Pat to inform me that Atlanta was in the middle of a gas panic, with severe shortages and outages everywhere. This is a city of 6 million people and if you are ever in traffic here, you will swear the whole population is on the road at the same time, all in separate cars, some folks still snoring while going 75 mph during the 7 a.m. rush hour. They usually wake up when I pull in front of them and slam on my brakes.

On this trip we are in our Jeep, and didn't bring the RV (thank goodness!). It was surprising to come from the relative plenty of other states to this mess. We hadn't heard about it before we got here or we might not have come, giving our little piece of the petrol pie to someone trying to get to the office this week. Driving past empty gap pumps on one street and cars in lines snaking around block after block elsewhere reminded me of the broken situation after Hurricane Katrina, where we joined in the hunt for gas like everyone else on the Gulf Coast. Like then, we decided to keep a sense of humor and practice patience and conservation...and yet, you have to use gas to find gas. The irony of hunting for gasoline after yet another hurricane, even this far inland, did not escape us.

The usual madness has ensued now that gas is scarce. People are lining up for miles at the stations that have gas. That segued into people leaving their cars overnight in line at empty stations and walking home or taking the bus or subway and coming back the next day hoping for gasoline to appear. If you don't think that a line of unmanned cars at a gas station isn't a somewhat eerie sight, you're wrong.
"It's like the Rapture," I whispered to John as we were out using what little fuel we had in our tank to search for more. "Or a Stephen King novel."
Later I complained, "We're cruising around like drug addicts in search of a fix!" as we drove through yet another barren neighborhood.
"This is crazy, " John agreed.

Ah, but given a few days the craziness has now upped a level. Now intrepid Georgia motorists who want to use the gas in their tank in a wise manner are stalking fuel tankers, giving them the attention once reserved for visiting heads of state or the latest boy band. Like teenyboppers on the trail of the Beatles, once spotted, the tanker driver/object of every one's affection's every single move is followed by enraptured fans of fuel until they end up at a gas station where they can, presumably, get a fill up once the man or woman tanker driver does their gassy duty.

Why the shortage? Something about Hurricane Ike, low sulfur gas, refineries offline, smurfs affected by solar flares, Danny Bonaduce, mentos, Diet Coke, and allergies to pine nuts. I don't
know why the shortage and like most people in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina, I don't care. I just want my fix.


Atlanta Residents May Not Have Gas To Get To Work This Week

What Do The Experts Say?


The Writer said...

You know what's sad? Everyone up here is so caught up in the Wall Street implosion that we don't even hear about this. Hang in there and stay safe!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

The Writer said...

TAG! I have awarded thee with a most coveted blog award! Got to go to my site to pick it up.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear