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.


  1. All true.

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

  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.

  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.

  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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