Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is normal?

No two days are alike for me, and the past few are no exceptions. Writing is no different from any other artistic pursuit, and like too many places in NC right now I've been out of (creative) gas.

The empty gas pumps and stations have made me feel very uneasy. Yes, I know the gas is now flowing to Spartanburg's hub from Texas and that supplies should start to increase by early next week, but that doesn't help for the moment. In Asheville, the excellent A-B Tech community college has canceled classes...some government offices have closed...all to cut down on vehicular traffic to limit the demand on local pumps, what few still have gas.

Charlotte has had plenty of its own issues with empty tanks, as well. Most places have long lines, which creates opportunities for increased tempers. I was the third car in one line when the attendant came out and closed the pump...and it was the last one they had had running. After my 15 minute wait I had to turn the car back on and go looking elsewhere.

In large part the gouging has stopped, although I hear stories of a few places jacking up prices. While gouging is not acceptable, there is a benefit if you look at it from more of a triage angle: if prices spike, it usually slows the dispensing of gas, making for a supply on hand when you really need it. As it is for many, they've had to park their cars until stations close to their house get gas...some can't get to work...some can't get to hospitals for treatments...there's no gas to be had, even if they were willing to pay $7 a gallon. That is a frightening proposition for some people.

And with that fear everyone seems to be tanking up wherever and whenever they can. As 'Joe Consumer' you bet I've curtailed shopping trips and throw our localized gas issues on top of the mountainous national economic news and I'm starting to feel like that bottom-weighted punching bag clown that keeps getting whacked from all sides. We have to get back up and keep our nose to the grindstone, regardless, getting what 'thick skin' we can to steady a very weak ship.

In a kinda-sorta way, each of the past few days has brought its unexpected detours...the frustrating ones, I should clarify. I go to cut wood, but all of a sudden the switch is dead. Not really dead, as I remember when it happened a couple of years ago...but what should have been a 2-minute cut was a 50-minute disassembling of a switch to remove dust and file off burnt contact points and then reassembling. Or trying to start a gas-powered weedeater that finally cranked after 20 minutes of messing with it, priming it, checking the spark plug....and when it finally buzzed to life, I ran out of line within 30 seconds. Add to that Mr. Brilliant, here, first finding then winding the string in the wrong direction (makes a HUGE difference!) and I had another one of those long diversions that took me far off any planned track. It's truly amazing how at times one little thing can immediately lead to 10 other things...kind of like a perverted Rube Goldberg contraption all its own!

And so I'm just trying to stay at peace and be as productive as possible. I have some other major issues to work on, but I'm apprehensive to tackle them for fear of more long for this morning I'll play it safe, post this, go sand on some flutes, and hope that some gas trucks make it to the hardest hit areas.


Anonymous said...

isn't it funny that only a few weeks ago so many were curbing their driving because of gas prices - now when some of us say, "i don't know if i can afford the gas" we are referring to how much gas we have and the fear of not being able to get more? haven't seen any price gouging but i've seen more than one person wtih 5 gln cans filling them up - in fact, saw one guy filling his large truck, the lawn mower he was trailering behind along with FIVE 5 gln gas cans! ugh!

still owe you that newsy email...will get to it soon, promise!


Bob Child said...

Today I have to get gas somehow somewhere...been riding my tank for 7 days as of today, waiting on that liquid gold to reach stores again. Lookin' forward to your newsy email when you get around to it! :-)