Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stupid People Fall For Stupid Rumors

Those of you in Georgia are already aware of this, and those out of state may have heard about it. We had a little Peach State gas crisis yesterday.

Rumors spread that gas stations across the state were running out of fuel. Otherwise sane people panicked, not bothering to check out the story. Cell phone calls, e-mails and text messages fueled (sorry!) the situation. Gas stations were closing at 2pm, one rumor stated. Another claimed there would be no gas deliveries for two weeks. We heard all those rumors here in the office. I got the e-mails, also.Lines formed around gas stations and backed up into streets and shopping centers. In one parking lot, a driver with a handgun tried to cut into line. In some places, gas prices shot up as high as $5.87 for regular unleaded.

But... there was no truth to any of the rumors. Gas supplies were below normal, but there was no imminent danger of tanks running dry. A mid-afternoon check of the AJC, the Associated Press and Atlanta news station web sites showed all the rumors were untrue.

"Atlanta's not out of gas," said Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores. Some stations might be out, "but it wasn't because there wasn't gas available. It was because there was a run on these stores."

The head of the convenience store trade association doesn't blame it on Hurricane Katrina or low stocks or delivery problems. He blames it on people falling for stupid gossip.

The situation eventually calmed down. I saw long lines all over town yesterday afternoon while I was out, but last night when we ran some errands things had calmed down. Prices on my side of town never got above $2.99, but there were reports of $4.00+ prices all over Middle Georgia.

All of this fueled (again, sorry!) by stupid rumors, believed and spread by gullible people. And yesterday, gullible equaled stupid.