Lessons from the ShortageMay 28, 2021 05:14PM ● By Shannon Mc Kenzie
The Colonial Pipeline reopened almost two weeks ago, after being shut down for less than a week, and Charlotte has been short on gas until recently. I haven’t had to buy gas since the shortage began, but I did drive by a gas station today and saw people filling their tanks and no plastic bags covering any pumps, so I assume the problem is resolved. Several things surprised me about all this:
1. I have no tolerance for not being able to get what I need. When I learned of the shortage, the worst thing I could think of was going to one station after another and finding no gas. The thought made me crazy. I figured out how to minimize my driving, do more biking and walking—anything but having to find gas in a shortage environment.
2. I’m too helpless without a car. Maybe this partially explains my own gas station phobia as well as the general gas-buying panic when we learned the shutdown could affect supply. Most places I need to be, I’ve always gotten to by car. Figuring out alternative modes of transportation seemed daunting.
3. How quickly we forget. The percentage of gas stations without gas was in the news daily until it abruptly wasn’t. I only noticed because I was almost on empty and was looking to the news to let me know when I could easily find gas again. Now it seems like the pipeline shutdown and gas shortage never even happened.
4. We tend to not solve problems in a sustainable way because we think the current way is the only way. I recall reading of a proposal to build more pipelines in our area for redundancy. Yet less than a year ago, a gas leak in the Colonial Pipeline was discovered in the Charlotte area, and the NCDEQ now calls it one of the largest gasoline spills in the country. Why introduce more of that?
So off I go to get gas, mindful that I did reduce my car use during this shortage and hopeful that I won’t forget the lessons I learned. I plan to keep biking and walking, explore even more transportation options—and urge our leaders to find sustainable solutions to issues.
Happy June and Father’s Day,