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Chill out, it’s going to be okay

As Hurricane Ike inches closer to the Texas shoreline, he’s sent the nation into a panic.

As early as Thursday afternoon, the phones at the Demopolis Times started ringing off the hook over concerns of gas hitting upwards of $5 per gallon sometime today or tomorrow.

That may or may not happen but I’ve never understood why people panicked so much over things they can’t control. Sure, standing at the pump and putting $100 worth of gas in your truck is a painful thought, but it’s one that I’ll likely face should this happen.

Have you ever thought how the station owners are dealing with this? The 18-wheeler that just pumped that liquid gold in the ground cost the station manager upwards of $20,000. The profit margin on gas sales is almost nothing. In price spikes like this, it virtually disappears.

In times like this, those 20-ounce bottles of Coke and the packs of M&Ms mean a lot to the people behind the counter. Tiffany, Lizzie and I planned a vacation several years ago that coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Dennis.

As we got into Florida, stations were running out of fuel. What fuel they had was expensive. I remember going in a station in Panama City where a customer was berating the cashier for the high prices at the pump in “her time of need.”

Never mind that palm trees were uprooted, sand was scattered across the highway and police were directing traffic where the red lights were lying on the ground. It was everyone’s time of need and that poor lady behind the counter probably had many personal things to deal with. She didn’t deserve the tongue-lashing she got. After all, when the cashier goes outside to fill up her car, it’s not any cheaper for her.

As I sit here writing this Friday afternoon, it’s not immediately known how Hurricane Ike will affect Demopolis, or if it will affect us at all. Gas has jumped up about 40 cents in some places but who knows what’s going to happen by the time you read this.

The general consensus, at least from the dozen or so residents who called the office Friday, is that we’re on the brink of crisis in terms of gasoline.

I don’t think that will be the case. It’s most likely to be uncomfortable and possibly expensive for a few days but I think it’s going to be very temporary. In the meantime, all I’m asking is that we not panic. Get gas if you need it. Get bread if you need it. Get milk if you need it, but please curb your frustration.

There’s no one in Demopolis that has any control of this situation. We’re all in this together and it’s best to weather this storm as a team.

However, should you feel the need to lose your composure, please go into one of our local gas stations and “Have a Coke and a Smile.”

Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times.