Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gastimating


There’s a service station right near my house.  Or I guess I should say, a "gas station."  There is no such thing as a service station anymore is there?   This one is one of those independents where the prices are always very competitive.  When I started getting my gas there a few months ago, I found that I could often get gas in the morning, but sometimes not in the afternoons.

I would drive up and find some of that yellow police-line type tape circled around each of the pumps.  No one had died, I’d hoped.  Nope, they were just out of gas.  The first few times, it pissed me off.  I mean, here I had deliberately driven to the station, with (little) cash in hand, ready to pump my greatly discounted gas to get my fuel indicator needle out from under the “E” and my orange dummy light off.  But there was no gasoline to be had.

I finally went in one day and asked the owner in a slightly annoyed tone,  “What’s up with the gas in the afternoons!?!”  

The owner is a slim, middle 50’s, Mid-Eastern man with dark-hair peppered with gray, who always wears designer blue jeans and fine pullover shirts with a gold necklace showing, and who speaks ok English with a thick accent.  “I tell them…to deliver at 7:30am every morning.  But this truck comes…sometimes 10:30, 11:00.  I have some left in morning, I run out afternoon.”

“Oh, I see.” 
I said.  “So you really get just enough gas each day for that day only.”

“It’s how they do it. I tell them be here 7:30, but they not here.”

“How about getting a different distributor?”

“It’s them.  They do this area.”


Well, I didn't fully get the flaw in the system, but it sounded to me like he’s kind of stuck with what he’s got.  I don’t know anything about gasoline distribution, but I supposed that if you are an independently owned gas station, you are kind of at the bottom of the food chain.  They’ll get to you when they get to you, after all of the big-chain daddies have had their fill.

I’m also guessing that he doesn’t really receive that much gas each day, but rather gets just enough to make it through any 24-hour period, because if he gets too much, the next day’s delivery, something that is ordered weeks in advance or on some pre-required regular schedule, gets messed up and his budget is all off.

So now, when I drive in, and the yellow police tapes are up, and I see him through the window inside looking befuddled and trying to get his mind around his never-ending predicament, I shake my head and cast  a laugh or two away with a bit more insight into the problem that is the daily distribution of fuel to independent owners.