Fill her up
I have some sympathy for motorists in Britain at the moment.
Not full sympathy because the whole mess was generally caused by a wave of panic after some twat broadcast that there could be a fuel shortage.
We had a similar scenario back in the early 70s here in Ireland. I think it was caused by some supply problems from the Middle East but to be honest, I was more interested in women and drink than in current affairs. All I know was that there was a problem, and the story was that there were sufficient supplies and that the crisis was blamed on panic buying.
I do remember the queues at petrol stations. They could stretch back for up to a quarter of a mile or more, and frequently people would sleep in their cars outside a petrol station in order to be near top of the queue. The other thing I well remember is the unfortunate garage hand who was sent out to count the cars and place a large sign on a car – “Last in Queue”. Naturally those behind the sign were not best pleased [having been waiting there for hours] and there were frequent threats, fights and bribery to move the sign back a bit.
I was lucky as I had two golden tickets.
The first golden ticket was that my job entailed a hell of a lot of driving and my car was classed as a company car. The Boss used to have an arrangement with a local garage and the word would go around – the garage was opening especially for us. Naturally we would all pile down and fill up. But then other drivers would see the queue of our cars and would assume we were just another queue and would join us. They would be firmly told that it was company only cars and of course the fights would break out again.
My other golden ticket was that I was one of The Lads. The Lads was a group of us who were pally and used to meet up at weekends to get hammered in the local hostelry. One of The Lads was a part time manager of a petrol station so he would quietly ask me if I wanted a fill. I was the only one with a car as The Lads all lived near the pub, while I was travelling from Wicklow. So my friend and I would drive down the the petrol station, whereupon he would fire up one of the pumps and fill my car. Naturally in that very short space of time [and late in the evening close to Drink Up time] a queue would quickly form. My pal would nip into the office, switch off everything and dash back to my car and we’d make a quick getaway.
But I wouldn’t want to repeat ’em.
Same time here (early 70’s) Oregon adopted a system where cars with a license plate ending with an even number could fuel up on one day and odd numbers on the next. It worked out fairly well except for the ones who showed up wanting to fill their cars and every sort of gas container known to man. They left somewhat dejected.
Over here, people used any and every container they could lay their hands on. There were stories of people driving home and syphoning off the car into jerry cans, water cans and anything that would hold a liquid – they’d then head off again claiming that their tank was empty.
Just down the road from the above mentioned hostelry a car skidded off the road and vanished in a ball of fire. Two young lads burned to death. It transpired the back of the car was full of plastic cans filled with petrol.
Hopefully it didn’t take more than a couple of seconds.