Friday, September 12, 2008
Thanks to a "love offering" to the blog from one of you fabulous folks, I was able to get to town today to get some sugar. Pear Lady was not at home and I should have called first, but you can't get off the phone with Pear Lady in under two hours. Pear Lady is really sweet, but she has OCD and has a tendency to spell words, apropo of nothing, in the middle of the conversation. It's like speaking to someone using ASL--but who spells out all the letters rather than signing them. She keeps notes on everything going decades back and often has to stop to find them for reference. So, I'll do elderberry jelly.
So. There is a gas shortage in east Tennessee thanks to the hurricane. The gas stations have taken this opportunity to raise prices back to 4 dollars a gallon. It's not like we aren't ever going to have mid-grade and high-test again ever, ever. And suddenly, gasoline is the new white bread.
What do I mean by that? Well, in South Carolina, when a big blow, ice storm or hurricane came that we weren't evacuating for, everyone rushes to the store to buy all the white bread. I'm not sure why. It wasn't like we wouldn't have white bread ever again--at worst we might go a week. Who eats four loaves of white bread in a week? And in the South, we use white bread as a sort of edible napkin for barbecue and sloppy joes. It's like we are anticipating losing all sense of decorum and smearing food all over our faces just because there was a big storm. Or we will run out of napkins and will need the white bread as backup.
And no. Whole wheat or anything slightly brown or tan won't do at all. It has to be the stuff that sticks to the roof of your mouth. It is a mark of great shame to ride out a storm with only Roman Meal.
So, I'm sitting in the gas line waiting for a turn at the pump. I haven't seen gas lines like this since the 1970's. I can hear my father's ghost raging about conspiracies and Big Oil. How the greedy bastards have us "over a barrel". How that ridiculous supply and demand excuse doesn't jibe with the absurd profits the oil companies are making. It's just an excuse to print money, he'd say.
Of course, the car in front of me is driven by a sweet old dear who needs the car keys taken away. She wears cataract glasses and she's eighty if she's a day. I have to honk to get her to move when the line moves, because cars are cutting in line left and right. She's a danger to our queue. She's sort of deaf because it takes a while for her to register she is being honked at. Her head pops up and she stares around--looking for where that vague noise came from. When she gets to the pump, it takes her a long time to get out of her nice new car--literally driven by an old lady--and she stares at the pump like it's a talking dog.
The guy behind me has worked himself into a fine lather of road rage. I nervously check my rear view window and see him banging his fists on the steering wheel and slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand. His lips move like he's in a Godzilla movie with the sound muted. I don't think he's saying, "Look! It's Mothra, Mother!"
The little old lady realizes she's left her credit card in her purse and slowly toddles to her car door. She needs to get completely in the car to retrieve it.
The guy behind me in now bashing his forehead into his steering wheel.
Finally someone comes to her rescue and helps her select her grade--the only grade available and puts the hose in her gas tank. This is normally something I'd do, but my left hip has immobilized my leg and I walk like Quasimodo--but a lot slower. Plus, somebody has to keep an eye on the guy behind me--he's now rifling around in the floorboards of his passenger seat and I'm hoping its not for his gun. I might be called upon to reason with him. "Look, capping the old lady's not going to get you to the pump any faster. " It's best I save my strength for talking crazy guy down.
Finally, she finishes pumping the gas with her tremoring hands. I breathe a sigh of relief and the guy behind me looks excited like he's going to bust. She sits in her car at the pump for an entire minute. I don't know what she's doing in there. Mysterious old lady things, no doubt. Stuff they don't tell you about until you hit 75. Then she pulls up just far enough that I can't take my space at the pump. Crazy gas station rage guy gesticulates wildly and his mouth flaps.
It's when she has finally pulled away that I notice it. Bright yellow and brand spanking new. A freaking Hummer H2 has pulled up to fill its obscene tank in the middle of a gas shortage. I ask you, who in their right mind buys Hummer's anymore? Everyone's eyes are drilling into the driver, who has been foolish enough to waive the tinted windows. We totally can see him and he looks like a country music star wannabe. He thinks he's cool. We are all thinking the same thing--that asshole is going to drain all the gas at this station, just you watch.
The guy behind me is digging in the floorboards again. If he goes for the Hummer, I probably won't stop him. In fact, I'm wondering what I have in my car I can use as a weapon.