June 17th, 2008

Make mine 50 gallons

All this talk & hype about the fuel dispute & petrol tanker strike reminds me of the last time it happened, was that in 2000?

I had many happy hours standing on a variety of forecourts preventing punch-ups between impatient motorists trying to get their hands on the last few drips of petrol so they could take their kids 1/4 of a mile to school. The amount of time I saw people filling up with three quid’s worth, just so they could keep their tank topped up.

There’s nothing so guaranteed to cause a bit of road rage than queueing up for an hour & a half to get onto the petrol forecourt only to get some smart arse jump the queue & screech in to the pump ahead of you. We had to close roads the queues were so bad.

If you were lucky , you got the shift in the public order van on a permanent circuit of all the petrol stations. If you were unlucky, you got to stand on the forecourt of the local Esso speaking to pissed off members of the public & hearing why their need for petrol was greater than any one else’s & could they just jump the queue.

There was one advantage though. Each petrol station was tasked by some decree or other to keep a proportion of its stock for emergency service personnel. This meant we could drive straight to the front of the queue, speak to the officer on guard duty, flash the Constabulary Express card & get directed to a free pump kept just for our use.

It was amazing how many people suddenly considered themselves to be part of the emergency services, plumbers, cleaners, bricklayers, third keyholder on the list for the local art gallery in case they got called out for an alarm activation, second cousin twice removed of a dog owner whose pet might require an emergency walk, local purveyor of hot food in the town square – those donuts don’t cook themselves (OK, we did let her have some one, after all we’ve got to eat, right?).

Personally, I can’t wait for the next strike to kick in; a) I’ll still get petrol & b) I know someone who’s just bought a new Porsche & I just know they will be willing to lend it to me for the odd journey to work – on a  quid pro quo basis…

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