History repeats itself. I’m a firm believer of that adage, and if you’re not, well, you should be after this week.
I thought we learned our lesson just more than a year ago when there was a toilet paper crisis. The pandemic had just set in and people were being told to shelter in place. This sparked a case of panic buying seen across the country. Grocery stores were depleted of just about every item you could imagine — even toilet paper.
During this time, I was still living in Alabama. I’ll never forget the day after Gov. Kay Ivey announced the shelter-in-place order. It was the day my wife sent me to Walmart for a few food items, among other things. It would also be the day that nearly every shelf within the store was empty, and it was all because people panicked.
This led to shortages in various products — predominantly cleaning supplies and toilet paper. People had to hop from store to store just to find the hot commodity. The cost of these products even went up, and many were accused of gouging.
Doesn’t any of that sound familiar? It should, because we obviously did not learn our lesson.
This week, the southeast region of the U.S. has another crisis on their hands, except this time it’s an even more valuable and necessary commodity than toilet paper. It’s gasoline.
As you’ve read, seen and heard from every news cycle in America, the Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut down after a cyberattack last week. When the news first came out, I remember reading that officials were telling everyone not to panic and that there was plenty of fuel supply. It would only take a few days to sort out.
But a few days was all the hypochondriacs needed.
To put it in perspective, here’s my personal timeline of the gas crisis:
Friday afternoon, my family and I drive to Alabama to visit family over Mother’s Day Weekend. When we arrive to our destination, I see the news about the pipeline.
Jump to Sunday morning, while getting ready for church a group chat including my mother lights up my phone. Now keep in mind, my mother isn’t a news person — she’ll pick up a newspaper, but she can’t stand to watch anything from the mainstream media outlets. She hardly ever comments on current events. She proceeds to text, “Heard through the grape vine, appears we will have gas shortage, announcement is being made today.”
This was the moment I knew we were in for a long week.
Sunday afternoon, we drive back to Newton County. I don’t really see or hear anything new on the gas situation.
Monday, talks start heating up here in Georgia.
By Tuesday, it’s like the toilet paper crisis all over again. People start coming out of the woodworks to fill their vehicles with gas. Then it escalates to filling up little five-gallon jugs, and then we see people trying to fill up plastic totes, grocery bags and water bottles.
If everyone would have remained calm and not gone into a frenzy, this shortage would have not been so bad, and, really, it may have never led to dozens of area gas stations running out of fuel. I mean, the pipeline was back up and running Wednesday evening.
Now, I hear there’s a shortage of sauces at Chick-Fil-A, and I can’t help but wonder, what’s next?
But then it occurred to me: we’re already in the middle of another shortage crisis — this time its common sense. And if we’re being honest, it’s the true culprit behind this gas crisis.
Maybe we’ll witness a stop to that shortage one day, too.
Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.