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Trying to hold out in the run for gas, hoping to avoid empty

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The CNN headline Monday afternoon made my stomach flip, “Developing Story: President Bush says Hurricane Ike has put ‘a pinch’ on nation’s energy supply.”

As if things weren’t bad enough.

On Friday, as gas prices in some places across the nation skyrocketed higher than $5 a gallon, I kept an eye on local prices. On a few occasions when I left the office, I noted increasing costs of gas, with lines growing longer and longer at local pumps.

I thought about joining the growing lines to wait, but ultimately decided against it. With more than a half a tank in my car, I vowed not to be a lemming and dash to the pump.

Of course with the basics of supply and demand, with rows of vehicles waiting to get into just about every gas station in the country—plus possible fuel woes sparked by Hurricane Ike—the price was going to go up.

I hoped others would join my filling-up ban so retailers wouldn’t have a reason to jack up prices.

No such luck.

Earlier in the week, gas prices on Main Street in Shallotte were around the three-fifty-something mark. By the time I got off Friday, they had increased at least 30 cents. By the time the weekend rolled through, gas prices were up to $3.99 for a regular gallon of gas. All that happened when the cost of a barrel of oil was on a decline.

In North Carolina Friday, Gov. Mike Easley declared “a state of abnormal market disruption” and called upon Attorney General Roy Cooper to enforce the state’s price gouging statute. But that hasn’t stopped some residents from crying foul, saying gas stations in the area have done just that.

By Monday morning, I had hoped once some of the damage from Ike had been assessed and drivers’ panic and fear had subdued, gas prices would start an immediate downturn, possibly dropping lower than they were before Ike fear set in.

Again, no such luck.

“Damage to the Texas area refineries and Gulf of Mexico oil rigs appears to be minimal, and gasoline deliveries will get back on track soon,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “During the next few days, availability will be sporadic and prices will remain high.”

A few more days? I’m thinking driving less is one of my few options in this single-person battle I’ve created against increased gas prices.

But AAA understands the cause. They urged people to “avoid panic pumping”—something that was out of control Friday.

How do you do that? Wait until your vehicle has less than a quarter tank of gas before stopping to fill up, AAA urges.

Good idea.

I’m hoping to hold out and drive away with more change in my pocket, albeit for now, less gas in the tank.

Hopefully, the situation will resolve itself before I drop below the quarter-of-a-tank marker, and if not, I’ll hold my breath, watch my automatic indicator and hope my resolve is longer lasting than Ike’s gas effects.