Monday, September 22, 2008


You guys cannot imagine what has been going on in Nashville regarding gas. It's been so ridiculous that I can't even talk about gas. The word makes me shake. So for the purpose of my story, I'm going to replace the word "gas" with "candy."

Let's travel back in time to two weeks ago, when everyone went and filled up their candy tank because the price of candy was supposed to spike over the weekend because of Hurricane Ike. I made sure my candy tank was full and went about moving and driving all over town. Sunday night, when C and I were returning the truck we'd borrowed to complete my move, we tried to refill the truck with candy but the three candy stations we passed were all sold out of candy. There were plastic bags on each pump. Intrigued but not alarmed, I assumed there'd be more candy in town by the end of the week (so I could head to Memphis as planned) and didn't think about it again.

Thursday night I was driving home and noticed that all the candy stations that were empty before were still empty. Probably not a good sign, but I still had a quarter tank of candy, enough to get me well out of Nashville, so I didn't lose any sleep over it.

Friday was a crazy day at work. We were all running around like mad and just when we thought things couldn't get any nuttier, our department director calls from a candy station to report she is 20 cars deep waiting in line, has been waiting for quite some time already, has no faith in humanity anymore and if any of us did not have a full candy tank, to leave work immediately and go find some candy.

I had a site visit coming so I couldn't go find candy right away. Instead, I pulled up the web site of a local news station. The video I saw was unbelievable. It reminded me of the infamous Creighton Leprechaun video. This is why other countries hate us, y'all. People were waiting two hours in line to fill up anything that would hold candy - candy cans, water bottles, milk jugs, SOUP POTS. I kid you not. Then when the stations ran out, people were leaving their abandoned parked cars at the pumps to be the first in line when the station got more candy. News flash: the candy is at a shortage because people are hoarding it! If people would stop stockpiling, there'd be enough to go around! This is not hard to figure out.

Anyway, I debated going right after work, but decided rush hour traffic + candy shortage = not a promising situation. I came home, packed for Memphis, met C for dinner and then went to find some candy on my way home.

The first station I came to that had candy was an Exxon. I drew a sketch to explain my place in line:
Now you can see this was a divided highway. There was a long, long line of cars that were making a simple right hand turn into the street with the candy shop (red path). I, however, was making a left hand turn, crossing the highway, and trying to merge into the train of cars that had been waiting in line (green path). This was very hard. These drivers were ruthless. I honestly was scared I was going to get a knife or gun pulled on me for trying to merge. I wasn't necessarily trying to cut in line, I just couldn't block the oncoming traffic by staying in the highway. The drivers were practically riding the bumper of the car ahead of them to make sure that I didn't get in front of them. I was wedging myself as much as I could without getting in a fight or a wreck, and finally, after seven cars had passed, I had wedged enough that one more car couldn't get by me. By this time about 30 minutes had passed.

Two lines were being formed: the line that I was in, and then I saw another shorter line coming from the opposite direction. They were the smart ones (blue asterisk in the sketch).

Security had been hired to keep order at the candy station. As one car would pull away from the pump, the security guard would direct the next car in line to pull into the candy station. It was taking forever.
I was probably ten cars back in my line when the inevitable happened. One man cried out, "mine just turned off?!?!" The woman beside him: "ME TOO!"

What happened next was like something out of a movie. Truly the highlight of my week. While others were panicking and cursing the high heavens, I was laughing my ass off. Again: this is why other countries hate us, everyone. Americans are obnoxious - yet amusing. (For the record: I probably would not have been so entertained if my candy tank was nearly empty and the check gauge light on, but since I was fortunate enough to have a quarter tank remaining, I was able to take the situation lightly.)

As all the candy pumps began shutting off one by one, the owner of the candy station came running out of the store like he was on fire. His arms were waving, and he was screaming "NO MORE CANDY! THERE'S NO MORE CANDY!"

Cue the security guards. The one that was patrolling the incoming cars picked up a sign that was lying at the ready on the curb. She marched over to the line of cars, planted her feet wide, held her sign up high in the air (which read OUT OF CANDY) and bellowed, "There is NO MORE CANDY at this station. Turn around now. NO MORE CANDY!"

Luckily, as you can see from the picture, I was in a good spot for turning around. Quickly, I whipped a U turn as I heard the loud upheaval of frustration coming from the cars around me. Everyone's window was down since everyone's AC was off (saving their candy, of course) and you could hear people screaming and hollering ("oh NO they did not just run out of candy after I've been sitting here for an hour!"). Once again, I was not frustrated. I was genuinely amused! All those cars that were adamant about not letting me in front of them? Not a single one of them got candy anyway!

I remembered seeing another station on my way to dinner that looked like it had candy. Whether or not it still had any candy by now was anyone's guess but I decided to go down there anyway.

It was a smaller station and there were fewer cars there. We were being funneled into smaller lines around the station and it was resulting in a huge flustercluck:
The redneck in the white car ahead of me was told to go one way, but then changed his mind and kind of cut of me off. I looked at him, which prompted him to yell "HE TOLD ME TO GET IN THIS LINE AND I'M NEXT!" I was stunned. Did he hear himself? I decided the best way to make him feel dumb was just to respond very politely and quietly with "okay." His blank stare indicated that wasn't the response he'd expected. I think he'd been ready for a fight, but I won before it started. "Thanks," was his sheepish, ashamed reply.

There was a $25 maximum purchase on the candy at this station, to make sure as many people were served as possible before the candy ran out. While the redneck in front of me was inside paying for his candy and a 12-pack, I talked to the owner of the station. He explained that he got his candy that afternoon and the worst part is that he wasn't scheduled to get anymore candy until next Friday (a whole week later). He said he only received 1,000 gallons of candy, and earlier that day the station across the street got 7,000 and it was all gone in 5 hours. Our conversation was effectively ended after he told me he expected to go dry any minute.

Luckily, the redneck came back outside and got his car out of my way so I could get my $25 worth of candy, or 6.11 gallons, or mere quarter of a tank, before there was no more to get. I knew I could make it most of the way to Memphis on a half tank of candy, so I felt good about my situation. Mission: successful.

Of course as I was leaving town Saturday morning I saw station after station with lines of cars waiting to get candy. But here's the best part: 20 miles outside of Nashville, it's like the candy crisis doesn't exist. Not only did I not have to wait at a pump, there were empty pumps all around me and I "only" paid $3.77 a gallon.

I had a lovely time in Memphis (more on that later). I filled up before I left and stopped on my way home to fill up at the very same station where I filled up Saturday morning. And now my car is parked at my apartment, full as a tick, because I walked to work today. I am a little scared my candy will be siphoned since you can see my candy gauge is on F, but I'll cross that bridge if I get to it. All I know is I have enough candy to get me to Alabama this weekend and that's all that I care about right now.

I watched the news last night and read an article about the candy situation. The pipes that bring us our candy all the way from Houston have been turned back on, are running normally and the situation will go away and the market return to normal if people stop freaking out and topping off at every station they can. And if they stop filling up anything other than their car's candy tank.

AND, I bet it would also help the situation if people would refrain from going to the empty candy stations, selling cans of candy from the back of their car for $10 a gallon, and then also telling the location of the station where they filled up the candy cans for an additional $5 (true story).


  1. I know a place where you can get some candy. But it'll cost you $4 for me to tell you.

  2. So that fateful Friday when everyone flipped their shit because candy prices went up our whole office was abuzz with the news that prices had hit $4.00/gallon in Birmingham. My candy light had come on that morning, but there was no way I was going to wait in line to buy candy. I was hoping I could hold off until they fixed the lines and prices returned to normal, but I had to cave in and get 1/2 tank the other day. I'm with you. The reason things turn into a crisis is because people don't think rationally and end up doing exactly what you shouldn't do.

  3. yeah it was the same thing here in Birmingham. people are idiots.

    too bad for me I actually needed gas to make the 1.8 mile trip home from work when the panic broke out ...

  4. I couldn't help but picture people actually going berzerk over real candy. Tug of war with huge pieces of taffy. Tic tacs dripping out of the pumps as they go dry. Jolly rancher lights going on in people's cars alerting them of impending sugary doom. If only life were that simple.

  5. Economics would solve this candy problem. However, price gouging has a negative connotation in this town. If the candy station would have raised their price to 10 dollars a gallon, then people who only use their vehicles for meaningless trips to WalMart and Bingo may have decided to conserve a little bit or people like me would ride a bike 9 miles to work instead of driving. That would in turn leave more gas for those who REALLY need it. Solved. Sometimes, if we leave the market alone, it'll fix itself. (That does not apply to AIG. If that thing failed, we would all be selling fruit on the freeway this week).

  6. This is hilarious - so glad I ran into you on Saturday and was directed here. I had heard there was no gas in Nashville but I love that you have photographic (and artistic) proof of just how bad it was! So funny. Hope you're doing well! Now adding your blog to my reading list...


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