The Gas Apocalypse

IMG_5407While driving to Virginia 2 weeks ago, I had my first glimpse of what an apocalyptic scenario might feel like.

Granted, this is a very first-world scenario, but I could see something like this going downhill really fast.

I was driving from St. Louis to Virginia by myself in one day. It’s a 13 hour drive, and I’ve done it many times before.

About midway through West Virginia, I needed to go to the bathroom and fill up on gas. So I did what I usually do: I stalled as long as I could (I don’t like to stop more than 3 times a trip).

Pretty soon, I really had to go to the bathroom, and I really needed gas. So I pulled off at the next exit. However, at each gas station I went to, the power was out. There were no bathrooms and no gas.

So I tried another exit. Same thing this time. It looked like a huge storm had hit that exit–power was completely out, and there was no place to get gas.

I got back in the car and decided to drive as far as possible to try to get away from the power outage. I went about 20 miles before I saw a bigger town. That’s where I found myself at a very crowded–but functional–gas station (see photo). People weren’t just filling up their tanks–they were filling up gas cans too. They were preparing to not have access to gas for a while.

I was fortunate that I was able to get gas and get out of there, but it made me realize how dependent I am on gasoline. It didn’t take an apocalyptic event to wipe out all access to gas for a 30-mile radius. Imagine if something much bigger had happened.

I started running through scenarios in my head. If I had completely run out of gas, what would I have done? With no power, my credit cards wouldn’t work, so I’d have to use cash to try to buy gas from someone, but they might not even want money. In a real apocalypse, the value of money drops close to 0. Gas, water, and food become currency.

I’ve always thought it was odd in novels and movies how quickly society falls apart in an apocalyptic scenario, but now I totally get it. I was completely focused on getting what I needed and getting out of there. It would be even scarier if there were no other place to go. My new home would have been in the hills of West Virginia, where I know no one and have very little utility.

Have you ever encountered anything like this or thought about what you would do to get out of there and/or survive?