Friday, September 01, 2017

On A "Gas Shortage"

So in the central part of a certain state that starts with a "T" and has recently been hit a hurricane, the rumor is out that there is a gas shortage coming.  And so somehow, we went from business as normal all week to "Gaspocalypse" in the course of about 5 hours.

It is crazy.  Driving about this evening and afternoon,, every gas station I passed had lines, sometimes out into lanes of traffic.  Mind you, this was after the media and government had been announcing for at least the preceding 3 hours that there in fact was no fuel shortage.  By the time I came home from class at 10, many of the stations I had passed had their pumps roped off or covered - and the ones that did not still had lines trying to get fuel.  A local station by us raised their prices twice in one day:  Started the day at $2.29, ended the day at $2.59 - and there were people still lined up waiting.

Somewhat curiously (to myself, anyway) I predicted this was going to happen - not so much the gas shortage as the perception of the gas shortage.  The van was filled twice over the weekend just in case.  I got gas this morning (I usually get it on Tuesday nights, but had to push it off) at $1.98 at PriceCo; out of curiousity I want to drive by tomorrow and see what the status is.

The actual lessons here - beyond do not believe everything your read or hear - are two:

1)  Being prepared means you never have to get prepared.  Maybe you have to stock up a bit, but not as if you had nothing at all.

2)  When people react, they overreact.  Imagine if this was an actual emergency - or if it involved more than just fuel.

3)  (Bonus Round)  I think a great many people drive around with their fuel tanks much more empty than they should be.

I have said it before:  the modern economy is an incredibly fragile interlace of webs.  The unraveling of only a few can have dramatic impacts.  Add to that the tendency of people to act foolishly and in herds in a crisis and we have all the makings of a real disaster.

4 comments:

  1. All true.

    But in the paycheck to paycheck economy, it will probably continue to happen.

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  2. It certainly exposes the fractures of the paycheck to paycheck economy. The question is if anyone will listen to what circumstances are trying to teach.

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  3. Good post. People always overreact to the media...but isn't that what they really want? It fuels more stories for them. One of the reasons I don't pay attention to media anymore.

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  4. Thanks Rain! Oddly enough, social media has made things worse, not better. Once upon a time - within my lifetime - it took days for such things to happen given that media was print, television, and radio. Now, it can happen almost instantly.

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