June 2008


That 70s Show

I’ve now seen something in real life that I only associated with the 70s in America.

Fuel shortages.

Last Monday truck drivers in Spain decided to protest high fuel prices by going on strike. If it were America, they would have formed a picket line in front of a gas station and that would have been that. In Spain they have a slightly different tact: they drive onto the expressway, and stop, thus blocking traffic behind them and pissing everybody else.

Like the flu, it was catching causing sympathy strikes on both of Spain’s major neighbors: France and Portugal.

The resulting Portuguese strikes didn’t cause any direct problems for me—the traffic jams between the hotel and the beach were just plain normal.

However I was a slightly inconsiderate guest—because as I was driving to the beach, I passed a gas station on the expressway that had a short line of cars poking out of it and into the right-hand traffic lane. For some reason I was a bit stupid and didn’t catch on to what was going on.

By the time I returned, heading back to Lisbon to replace my broken glasses, the line at the petrol station was considerably longer—probably about half a kilometer long, extending all the way down the right hand lane to the previous on-ramp. Again, I was stupid, and as I was focused on my glasses, I didn’t stop to buy fuel.

When I finally got to the office, about 4pm, I heard the news: Gas stations across Lisbon were out of fuel. Stations that had fuel had enormous queues. Trucks were not delivering it to the stations, thus creating the shortage.

The shortage was even affecting flights at the airport.

The same airport I’m flying from in a few hours.

Wish me luck.

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