The Great Charlotte Gas Shortage of 2008

It’s times like this that I wished that I had some better way of displaying headlines. I don’t know what, exactly. Maybe a big flashing sign. Or perhaps a rotating banner. Just something, because a story like this just begs for something more than text. I could always go retro and bring in the good old blink element, but that would just be annoying. So I suppose that means I’ll just tell the story.

For those of you who don’t live in Charlotte, or in the general area, we’re low on gas. Really low. It’s not because of the weather – at least not the weather that we have here. When Hurricane Ike hit what seems like months ago, apparently they shut off our gas pipelines or something. Because for the last week or so, stations all around town have gradually been shuttering their pumps, and now we’re down to almost nothing. Gas-wise, I mean. Lots of lines, and plenty of horns. Even one arrest (maybe more, that’s just all I’ve heard about).

What I find really interesting is just how bad it is. According to some reports, we’re receiving normal shipments – but demand is so high, it isn’t making a dent in the shortage. Some counts (from AAA, I think) just last week say that only a few gas stations are out, but as I drive about, almost no pumps are in operation. The few that come on have seem to have monstrous lines. What’s really funny is watching people get in these huge lines to wait for gas. The paper even talks about people waiting hours in hopes that trucks will show up – even people following tankers around to see where they will stop.

Thus far, we’ve filled up three times in the last week, and waited a grand total of 20 minutes for all three. That’s combined, folks. I’m not saying we’re blessed (though we surely are), it must just be a matter of being in the right place at the right time and not stopping at the first massive line you see. I’m also lucky to not have to go into work. I mean if I had to, I could sit at my desk all day and not leave the house (much). One night, I went out because I wanted to see what was happening.

Out of probably fifteen stations, only two were pumping, and that at a massively reduced rate to lengthy lines of cars. It’s ridiculous, and I’m left wondering if Charlotte is either the victim of a new form of terrorism or the pilot program to encourage people to try out mass transit, because the world as we know it seems like it’s just about to collapse if this goes on much longer. It’s really pretty interesting to watch. Almost as good as a hurricane – only no one really gets hurt in the process (there may be a few fights here and there, and the potential for lost jobs, but not the massive property damage and whatnot).

I’ve heard tell of slight gas problems in the surrounding areas, but nothing like what we’re seeing here in Charlotte, with only one out of ten stations or so pumping. What are you seeing where you live?