Among the many life adjustments I've made in the last year-and-change since moving to Georgia, this one was the most unexpected: Hurricane season means gas shortages even for those of us far inland from said hurricanes.
And even if someone had told me about this phenomenon, no one could've predicted what we've been experiencing the last month or so. Long after the hurricanes (and any associated pipeline damage) have departed, gas is still scarce.
How scarce? Well, I work from home. As gas prices soared this year, I may have grumbled a bit, but mostly I was smugly happy that I don't have to do much driving. It's not unusual for me to fill up my car just once every two or three weeks. And yet, the day came, a few weeks ago, when it was time for my fill-up... and there was no gas to be had.
I pass five different gas stations, easily, on a normal errand or kid-activity jaunt. And as I drove along, low gas light gleaming at me on my dash, every single gas station had a bag over every single nozzle.
I drove home and hopped online. "Hey, local peeps," I Twittered, "where can I find gas in town?"
Of the half-dozen responses I received, two indicated success at stations within the last day or two which were now dry, two spoke of wanderings around town on a desperate hunt for gas, and just one person told me of success across town, albeit with the caveat that "the line was way out onto the street." I waited until the next day to go looking again, and then set out as soon as a friend called to tell me she'd seen a delivery truck at one of my nearby stations. By the time I arrived, cars were lined up for Regular three- and four-deep, though they were still out of the higher grades.
It became an even hotter issue 'round here when an oil executive dared to suggest -- here in the heart of college football-mania -- that Governor Perdue should cancel the UGA/Alabama game. (Oh, you should've seen the furor over that one. It was as though he had suggested canceling Christmas.) The game went on, of course, but traveling fans were urged not to count on gassing up in the Athens area, due to the shortage.
Whether or not the shortage is "real" is the topic of much debate, but I am here to tell you that the reality of wondering whether or not you'll be able to find gas is definitely a part of life in the southeast these days. I've been blogging the ongoing drama of my son's experiences with orthodontia (long story short: he appears to have a magical set of destructive teeth, or possibly a defective set of braces) and the many emergency trips we've had to make to the office; but what I haven't mentioned is that the office is across town and I have basically stopped driving anywhere else (save for a weekly grocery trip) because I'm worried he'll pop a wire and we won't be able to get the gas to get over to the orthodontist. My friends and colleagues who commute are routinely spending forty minutes or more driving around town to find a station with gas, just so that they can continue to get to work!
The icing on the cake, of course, is that when we are able to find gas, it's still right around the $4/gallon mark. So, it may take forever to find, but at least it's still really expensive, too.
And yeah, it's now October 8th. Hurricane Ike hit Texas on September 13th. Either that pipeline is a lot longer than I think, or -- as we might say here in the south -- something ain't right, here.
Read more tales of gasoline-chasing in the southeast:
In south Florida, Lois Solomon is still constantly topping off.
Katherine of So Slight discusses the "shark-circle" we're doing at the pumps.
KSU's Dominique Richmond says two North Caroline community colleges have had to suspend classes thanks to the gas shortage.
Lily's Mom cites hours-long waits in line for gas, and the hunt for Premium grade.
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