Panic at the Pumps

Lunchtime on Friday, Sept. 12, in Tupelo, Miss., and you could feel — and see — the panic well ahead of any bad weather Ike was bringing. “If you need gas now, you’d better go get it before things get wild,” my husband had called me as I was walking around downtown (OK, I was really shopping, but he doesn’t need to know that). And he was right. As news of shut refineries and hurricane damages and low supplies and rising prices sped through town, lines lengthened at service stations and spilled out to streets — and pumps that didn’t have lines were already empty. I even saw a fight almost break out between two women in pickup trucks competing for vacant spot — but perhaps they had a history between them unrelated to filling up before gas hit $4. Anyway, it was too late. At 11 a.m., gas was $3.57. By 1 p.m., it was $4.20. And rising. Yikes.