Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My first lesson in Peak Oil awareness

Awareness. Consciousness, recognition, realization; understanding, grasp, appreciation, knowledge, insight; familiarity, formal cognizance.

Awareness of a problem is a precondition to creating a solution.
Do you like stories? I do! There's nothing like a good story to help us learn something new. I hope you like this one.
There I was. Circa, 1980. Standing at a gas station in Newport Beach, California. I was just minding my own business filling up the tank of my 4 wheel drive truck. And all of a sudden, in squeals a little black Porsche 911 that skidded to a stop utilizing a miraculous ad-hoc gas pump collision avoidance technique. Out pops a beautiful blond woman in designer clothes and dripping with jewelry. A trophy wife. It was obvious.
She proceeded to circle the vehicle looking high and low for the gas filler port. After about the 4th orbit she found it and realized she had pulled up on the wrong side of the island, again. Oh well, no matter :-) She popped back in behind the wheel and fired up that little black toy and proceeded to screech around to the other side of the pump island. Can you see it coming?
That's right! She jumped out again and it took her about 30 seconds before she became AWARE that she had recreated the same challenge of having the filler on the far side of the vehicle from the pump.
At this point, I discontinued my fueling operations to take advantage of my ringside seat.
The third time, she got it right, but back on the original side of the pump island and not without some spectacular circling maneuvers as she worked out in real time the spatial realities of re-positioning her lil rocket ship.
She jumped out again, and this time she actually made eye contact with me and immediately scowled. She gave me a look like I was an offensive insect and I smiled and she ignored me.
I watched her wrestle with the gas nozzle and hose, remember the old ones without the vapor-recovery system? She got the fuel filler door open and managed to pry the cap loose. So far, so good. But then, trouble. She tried to squeeze the nozzle actuator once she managed to get it in the hole, but it clicked off time and time again.
Being the consummate gentleman that my mother always hoped for me to be, I idled over and politely offered my assistance.
"Can I help you with that Ma'am?" She started with the "crush the insect" look again but changed course and put on her best "Daddy, can I have another diamond bracelet" look instead and smiled at me as she gave me one of her regularly practiced cleavage shots.
I proceeded to pump the gas for her and politely avoided any small talk so she wouldn't actually have to speak to me.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed her sizing me up.
"What in the world happened to you," she asked quizzically?
I was still dressed in my roughneck coveralls and I was covered with, oil!
Oil! The black stuff that they use to make gasoline for little black Porsches! I had just driven all night from a well we were drilling in Utah and I was still filthy from a flow test we had done that drenched everybody on the drilling floor before we got it shut in and avoided the imminent explosion that roughnecks affectionately refer to as "midnight death." I was so excited to go surfing in Mexico on my days off that I hadn't even bothered to wash up.
I told Miss Porsche that I worked drilling oil wells. For just an instant, I saw a little flicker of RECOGNITION, and maybe even APPRECIATION cross her countenance.....but then it was gone.
She said to me, "Oh, I see!" And I could easily tell that she did not.
It was that moment that gave me a powerful INSIGHT into understanding my fellow man, or Porsche-Babe, as the case may be.
I UNDERSTOOD that the vast majority of people in this world will never have the slightest clue where oil comes from and what it takes to go get it so others can live their lives.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Rock on! And why shouldn't people be able to enjoy their lives free of concern for things industrial, things of a petroleum nature?
After all, we don't live in tribes anymore. Modern society insulates the beautiful people from the dirty, grimy world of physical labor as in drilling wells for black gold.
I never forgot that lesson. I helps me even now to understand how people can be so blind to the Peak Oil problem.
I learned that my realizations are not your realizations. Everybody has to be responsible for their own awareness.
I am looking forward to sharing my expertise as this exploration into AWARENESS moves forward.

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