When I woke up this morning (April 30 2007), I didn't notice anything different. I got up, showered, got dressed, and had breakfast. At 6am I got in my car and started on my 50 mile commute to work. I needed gas, so I headed over to my local fill up.
That's when I saw it. $4 a gallon for the 'cheap' stuff. All I could think was "what the heck?". Ok, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the point.
I filled up, thankful it was still early. The world must not have noticed yet, so I got in and got out with only a dent in my wallet to show for it. 50 miles later, I realized the world had noticed. It was all over the news. Gas prices have skyrocketed, and no clear reason why. People in some cities were lining up to get their tanks full before tomorrow and another increase. The usual talk of doom and gloom bounced back and forth between neatly dressed anchors and the "experts" they brought in. What a shame the real experts weren't there.
Walking past the guard desk and the HD plasma screen showing the news, I got in the elevator. My last moment of peace ended with a ding, and as the doors opened I knew it was bad. My coworkers were all scrambling, answering phone calls and typing frantically at their PCs.
As I sat down, I tried to ignore the mad flashing light on my phone. My mind was filled a single thought.
"How am I going to afford to keep driving 100 miles every day? Even with my 30mpg car, it's still $350 a month."
It wasn't until just now that I started to think about groceries, medicine, and all that other good stuff that's shipped by trucks. All that stuff that's going to get more expensive, if it even gets here at all. If this lasts longer than a week, there will be major repercussions. I should know. Working with trucks is what I do for a living, and I'm already seeing the effects.
I'm one of a handful of folks that helps maintain the computer systems that keeps a very vital resource moving. That's why I only had time for one thought, because my boss was already on me for status updates. I quickly checked my voice mails. The stores are demanding more product, and the trucks are working double time to ship it. Inventories at the terminals are being strictly controlled to prevent outages and many folks are getting mad. I started making return calls. The gas trucks weren't going to wait.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...I work for a company in the petroleum industry. Just like I told my friends, family, etc this morning, I didn't have a clue either. I'm just a peon, blown around by the same ill winds as everyone else. No special treatment or discounts here. Not that it would matter. 75% or more of gas price is the oil price anyway. As long as the traders keep buying and running the price up, we're all at it's mercy.
So, that's keeping me up tonight. I'm wondering how this is going to affect my job, my family, my life. We're going shopping tomorrow to stock up on some essentials. Get as much as we can so we don't have to make too many trips. I refuse to go into panic mode yet. No stocking up on tons of water or any of that. Mostly just cutting corners here and there to make the most of it. I'm also going to talk to my boss and see if I can start telecommuting. Every little bit helps, I guess.
Maybe this will blow over. If you believe the 8 to Save the Country, though, it won't. I'd like to think we can adjust quickly without too much disruption. Still, the possibility is there that this the worst case scenario. Given my occupation, that means I'm just off of center of the storm...the strongest part.