Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome Find

I saw the gas station lines on Friday and Saturday as I went about my business. I drove from my house in Pine Lake to visit my sister, who lives in Roswell, one of Atlanta’s always thrilling routes including both I-285 and Ga-400, then on Saturday to pick up my grandson in Marietta, another journey via I-285. So I left home Sunday before dawn to fill up. Traffic was unusually heavy for so early on a Sunday. It quickly became clear that I was not the only one cruising for gas. I visited several stations all the way to Emory, then Briarcliff Rd, North Druid Hills Rd., Lawrenceville Hwy. Plastic bags and yellow tape covered the handles at the pumps.

On my way home, I stopped at the Kroger where we often shop. By then, the time was after 7 a.m.. Four lanes of vehicles lined up for the 10 Kroger pumps at North Decatur Rd. and DeKalb Industrial Way. I got in line behind a dozen others. Red-shirted Kroger employees tirelessly directed traffic to the next available pump. I waited about half a hour for my turn. The lines extended out of the shopping center onto the main roads by this time. I usually make great effort to try to avoid lines. This was the second extraordinary one I had joined this week, the other being at the DeKalb County Registrar’s Office for early voting. Both lines were handled efficiently and helpfully, and I left both feeling victorious. I believe the high turn-out of voters in DeKalb County will overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. As a Kroger-Plus Card Customer, I paid less than $4 per gallon for my gas, $3.969, to be exact.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the current gas shortages are due to the back-to-back hurricanes in the petroleum rich Gulf Coast states of Louisiana and Texas. You would think hurricane season did not come every year, regular as Columbus Day and Halloween. Power outages have shut down the refineries. Maybe they should spring for some emergency generators, like telephone companies do. I understand the hurricanes missed New Jersey. The last time I was on the Interstates between Atlanta and the Jersey Turnpike, the tanker trucks seemed to know the way just fine. No estimate is available at this time for the end of the current situation, but production should resume faster than after Katrina and Rita because the refineries weren’t damaged as badly, according to the AJC. Only four of 56 refineries were still closed on Friday.

One petroleum executive suggested cancelling the football game between the University of Georgia and University of Alabama for fear that footbal fans would leave all the gas pumps in the Athens area on empty. "That gas needs to be used for people to go to work, and for people to take care of their families," Tex Pitfield, president and CEO of Saraguay Petroleum in Atlanta, told WGAU radio in Athens. Listen, Mr. Oil-Tycoon, just because you can’t run your own business doesn’t mean we’re going to let you mess with SEC Football. Some things are more important than the economy. Even the office of Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said cancelling the football game was "a ridiculous idea.” The Georgia Bulldogs closed an Alabama Crimson Tide first-half lead of 31 points, but it was too little, too late, and the final score was 41-30 in this gridiron rivalry that often determines the SEC as well as National Championship. Gas stations between Athens and Tuscaloosa did a booming business in beer, soda pop, chips, peanuts, and moon pies. Those that had gas to sell were welcome finds also.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

1 comment:

marcia said...

Charlotte, NC receives its gas supply from the same pipeline as Atlanta. Our gas prices increased twenty cents per gallon when Hurricane Gustav moved out of Cuba and entered the Gulf. When the rain began in Galveston, many gas stations increased the price an additional seventy-five cents to a dollar per gallon. Residents of Charlotte and surrounding cities were encouraged to save their gas receipts and take pictures at the gas stations to document price gouging. During the past week and a half, many gas stations have been out of gas completely. Drivers are waiting in lines for up to two hours to pump whatever grade fuel is available. Some people have slept in their cars overnight in lines at gas stations awaiting predicted station replenishments. Travelers driving through our area are panicked to find no gas available for many miles at stations along highway exits. School bus service has been reduced wherever possible, police foot patrol has been expanded, ambulances and fire trucks are filling up at dwindling private reserves. Charlotte's mayor appeared on all the evening news channels Wednesday and Thursday predicting major fuel deliveries Friday and over the weekend, hoping to encourage residents and employers that obtaining enough gas to get to work would be easier next week than it's been during the past week. So far, only minimal fuel delivery has occurred. Good news is that ridership on our new rapid transit system has dramatically increased.


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