February 27, 2007

Speed vs Gas

We want what we can't have. In this case, gasoline.
I’ve got some downers, some speed
All the drugs that you need
But I can’t get a gallon of gas.
There’s no more left to buy or sell.
There’s no more oil left in the well.
A gallon of gas can’t be purchased anywhere
For any amount of cash.
--- The Kinks
In Toronto, gas prices have increased to nearly a dollar a litre because of a supply shortage. Yesterday morning, I saw that the pumps at my regular gas station were closed. I had about 1/3 a tank left, but started feeling uneasy. I checked my Distance To Empty, which was 240 km. I still felt uneasy. That's the power of scarcity.

I passed several other gas stations and they had fuel. So my uneasiness decreased. By the end of the day, all stations I passed were open --- even mine. I didn't bother refueling because of the lineups. I figured the shortage was over and that prices would drop.

Until this morning.

According to the radio, the shortage is ongoing, government action is needed, truckers may be out of business within days. The usual scare-mongering. I resolved to get gas that morning. The first station I visited was closed. I changed to a slower route with many stop lights and more gas stations.

Look ahead. There's a lineup. And it's not a Tim Hortons! Explain this to me. There's a pump with 6 vehicles lined up while another pump has only one car. Guess which pump I pick? Guess what? There's no premium fuel left. Luckily, my car can use regular. So I fill up at $0.978 per litre.

I'm feeling good until I pass four other gas stations and find only one is closed. Maybe gas isn't that scarce after all. But do they have premium unleaded?

Coming home, the story is different. My car feels less spirited. Is it the regular gas? Maybe it's just psychological. Four of the six gas stations I pass are closed. The two that are open have long lineups. Gas is in short supply again. I feel good.

That's the power of scarcity. And insensitivity to the plight of others ;)

Our clients also want what they can't have. How can we (not) give it to them?

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