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Hurricane Sandy & The Irrationality Of Speed

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On: Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:44AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Hurricane Sandy & The Irrationality Of Speed

For the past week or so, living in and around New Jersey has not been the most fun. Trees are down everywhere, and in some places, the only thing holding them up are the power lines they landed on. Coming home after work to a cold house, with only candles and flashlights to get around has given some of us a very clear snapshot of what life was like in the 1800's. Some of us have just gotten power back (today), and some are still stuck in the dark, and we are the lucky ones. Those stuck on the Jersey Shore and coastal parts of New York have had their home towns declared 'uninhabitable' until further notice.

The other big problem caused by Sandy has involved gas. The tankers that bring us the gas from the other side of the world have gotten stuck in the harbors, unable to deliver their payload to truckers, causing a bit of a gas shortage in the most populated area of the country. Needless to say, it has not gone over well. Some who did not prepare, and others who just have an extremely long commute and need to fill up every other day or so got stuck waiting on gas lines for as much as three and four hours last week. Thankfully the governor stepped in and brought back a rule that may sound familiar to anyone over the age of 35 -- odd/even gas days. For those that have never heard of this concept, the rule is based on the last numerical digit of a car's license plate. Zero is considered even, while any type of 'vanity plate' is considered odd (which we wholeheartedly agree with, bravo governor). So if today is an even day, only those whose last digit is an odd number or a vanity plate can get gas, and anyone else attempting to get gas will be ticketed by one of the police cars on duty at every gas station that had gas. Yes, really -- it's been fun. Thankfully the odd/even rule has cut down on the wait time to get gas, but not by as much as most would prefer.

So this is the backstory of what the last ten or so days have been like around these parts. The entertaining moment that some automotive enthusiasts may be able to relate to happened about three days after the storm hit. Your humble writer was on his way home from work in his usual 430 horsepower Trans Am WS6, and getting low on gas. A toll booth was coming up, and because toll charges had been suspended, it was only necessary to slow down to go through the toll booth instead of having to come to a complete stop. As the WS6 crossed through the toll, it became immediately clear that there was another car with a very powerful engine that had no-doubt been stalking the T/A. That car was a late model Mustang, and its driver wanted to make it clear to the T/A that he thought his car was faster than the aging Pontiac. The Mustang driver mashed his throttle, and immediately without even thinking about it, your impetuous writer mashed the throttle on the Trans Am, accepting the challenge laid down by the Blue Oval. As the revs climbed over 5,000 rpm, with 2nd gear approaching quickly, suddenly a realization occurred to our T/A driver -- "I could run out of gas doing this!" The throttle was lifted, and the race was over before it even began.

It just goes to show that even with the very real reality of three hour gas lines looming on the horizon, as well as the very real chance that the car might run out of gas, the rumble of a throaty V8 can incite a knee-jerk (foot-stomp?) reaction that is anything but rational. Thankfully, logic and a strong dose of common sense prevailed. Of course, it is always easier to back out of a race while your car is a nose ahead -- that can brighten any day, electricity or not.

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