Column: Selfish acts have a price

Chacha Murdick

The Maroon

Chacha Murdick


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There is a special place in hell for people who skip to the front of the gas line. Anybody who tried to get out of the city in the days before Hurricane Isaac knows exactly what I’m talking about. We all needed gas at the same time. A shortage ensued.

As lines of cars depleted the local supply, stuff got awkward. Prices went up, and even then, the gas dripped from the pump at the speed of molasses. Did I mention it was hot outside? Some places were cash-only. Some places were card-only. Money is frustrating! As is heat.

Fights broke out. Down around the seventh ward, people got all up in other people’s faces about filling too many gas containers for themselves when there was hardly enough to go around, and then somebody called the cops.

Of course, if you have to get the police involved, it’s likely both parties are in the wrong. The problem is that it’s hard to be a good and rational person when it’s hot outside and you’re stressed out and afraid. Some descended into survival mode, behaving as if this was a matter of every man for himself.

That’s probably how the young lady in the black SUV felt when she pulled up to the front of the Shell gas station at Carrollton and St. Charles, wedging her way between cars to skip a line that reached all the way into the street on both sides. Of course, we all yelled, politely reminding her that there was a line. She shrugged her shoulders and scrunched her nose. As the gas oozed snail-like from her pump, her little nose-scrunch went away real quick while she squirmed beneath our glares of death and hate. Frankly, she’s lucky nobody keyed her stupid car.

I’m speaking out of concern for her safety here! The most obvious reason not to be a total jerk in times of crisis is that if you play the every-man-for-himself game, other people will play that game too, and there will be chaos. Chaos makes the acquisition of gas even more stressful, and I can assure that nobody’s situation is so important that they alone deserve all the world’s gas before anybody else.

We all got hit with the same storm, guys. Conserve, share, and if you have to be selfish at the pump, remember to give the guy behind you a nice, “Sorry ‘ bout that,” wave, and when he grimaces back at you, remember that he only grimaces because it’s hot and this sucks. I’m not saying I’ll personally come key your car if you break these rules, but somebody’s certainly likely to, and if that doesn’t get you, your bad karma will.

Chacha Murdick can be reached at [email protected]