Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I run out of gas

Well, I was wrong.

I tried to wait out the gas panic, telecommuting some days and driving my spouse's car on others.

Over the weekend we were on a trip to South Carolina, which generally has lower gas prices. We took my car because it's more expensive to fill up, so it would have bigger savings. Skipped one station on the way in, and then tried all of them on the way out.

Those gas stations came in 2 varities: out of gas, and only basic gasoline.

My car needs premium, so I'm pretty much out of luck. Experimentation a few years ago showed that it needs about 90.5 octane, so I was able to dilute the 93 in my tank with some 87 to give myself a little more range.

But the lesson to me is clear: next time, I need to panic with the rest of the masses.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Charlotte runs out of gas again?

Charlotte ran out of gas in the wake (so to speak) of Katrina, before I was a resident. Now Ike is doing a redux, and this time I have the chance to observe the panic in person.

Driving home I saw a very long line at the gas station I usually use -- which has some 18 pumps and I've never had to wait at. The price for premium had jumped from around $3.80 to $4.20, which was typical for Friday's jump. The next station I passed just displayed "$.00" on its sign, and the pumps were taped off, apparently out of gas. That pattern repeated itself the rest of the way home.

People are notoriously irrational about gas prices, willing to spend lots of time and gas to save a few bucks. How scared were folks of being unable to fill up next week?

Last time, the panic was apparently triggered by government officials asking people not to panic. This time, some stations started asking customers to limit themselves to 10 gallons, which just kicked off the nonsense by itself.

At least prices went up to discourage consumption. I'm at about a quarter-of-a-tank, but I think I can hold out until the craziness passes.