WRAL’s Bryan Mims needs tow truck during gas shortage :: WRAL.com
Raleigh, North Carolina – Relief hit me like a strong puff of gasoline: I had found a place to refuel.
My needle was hanging dangerously close to a quarter full, and I still had 40 miles to go before I got to Raeford, where I had a story shoot scheduled.
I passed several stations along US 1 north of Sanford that had the (ugh!) Plastic bags on the pumps. Finally, at Circle K on the corner of Pendergrass Road, the fuel was leaking and the lines were short.
But in a flash, my relief evaporated and I just stood there in dismay. As gas entered my Toyota 4-Runner, smoke billowed from under the seats. And behind the wheel. And under the hood. Sparks sparkled on the carpet. Two wires connecting the car’s battery to an inverter – a device I use to plug in my assembly computer – were melting. A man rushed in with a fire extinguisher. I jumped into the driver’s seat and shifted into neutral as he and another man pushed the SUV to the edge of the parking lot.
It was clear that I would not be going to Raeford today.
That’s when I called Aubrey Cox from Cox Towing and Recovery in Sanford. He hitched up the 4-Runner to the platform and drove me to the Mission Valley gas station in Raleigh. My misfortune gave me a good opportunity to speak with Mr. Cox about how tow truck drivers are making their way through the gasoline shortage. I wondered if he was getting calls from out of gas drivers stuck along the road.
“I had a call like this yesterday (Tuesday), but I had no gas,” he says. “Today it’s going to be different. I will have gas today and I will have additional cans.
He ended up towing this driver to a gas station, but by filling his gas cans he can at least save a few gallons for a motorist in distress. If we’re in this long-term fuel shortage, “the more worried I will be,” he told me. “I’ll probably have to stay local then, because if I can’t get the gas out of town, I can’t go home.”
Gasoline is the cornerstone of his business. It’s not that he wants to rack up or panic, but people depend on him in times of emergency – or bad luck. So, he says, his Ford truck, which reaches around 15 miles per gallon, needs to stay full. “I have tried all the stations I see,” he says. “If I can’t get it, I can’t go.”
He says gasoline prices should climb much more before considering raising his own prices. “I haven’t been up since 2014,” he says. “And I didn’t come down.”
The Mission Valley gas station had its pumping pumps (yeah!), So Mr. Cox did some gas before heading back down Sanford Road.
As for me, I hauled all my things into another company SUV while mechanic Tommy Horton tore through the sizzling wires.
He called me a few hours later with an update: “It did!”
It was a surprise: I thought it would be heavy – and expensive – repair work. But maybe it’s not as bad as I feared.
Now that would be a relief.
But he still only has a quarter of a tank of gasoline.