Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fifteen Hundred Litres A Day. Really.

The fuel pump where we are based has been surging oddly during fuelling, and once it cut out and had to be restarted mid-fuelling. We suspect that the supply is running low. It's Sunday, but I call the number I have for the fuel supervisor anyway, to leave a message. She answers and I tell her what we've observed.

"There were six thousand litres in it on Friday," she says. Unfortunately, that means that if we're the only ones using it it will be dry before Tuesday. I did tell her how much fuel we take in a day, but recent experience suggests that the number doesn't impress in people's heads. She says she will check again and that she can order more on Monday.

Sigh. We make sure to plan our flights to arrive with enough fuel to legally hop to another airport for fuel.


Dave Starr said...

That post made me laugh out loud. Living as I do in a "developing country", one of the chief questions/comments I get from fellow Westerners is aren't things a bit backward at times?

Well truthfully they are, when you find something in a store thta you like you are well advised to buy extra, because next week you are likely to hear the excuse, often uttered with a sense of price, "Out of stock, sir."

But I see ample evidence that business in the US (and from your testimony, in Canada) isn't doing any better. If I was trying to make a living off fuel sales I damn sure would do everything I could to have fuel in the tank to sell.

But I know the line of reasoning .. since you are going to be there only a short time, why bother?

Indeed, why bother? Why take advantage of profit/service opportunities ... it's so much better to go home at night and moan about the economy.

A bit depressing when you think about it ...I mean one assumes an FBO "chose" to go into that business ... or is there some loophole in Canadian law where people can be sentenced to run a business in sort of an involuntary servitude role?

People, the "recovery from the recession" will not be announced by bands playing and heavenly angels descending with harps and trumpets. It's a customer who flies in and wants to buy 1500 liters a day.

Geekzilla said...

Maybe there's a leak in the tank and the fuel is going into the soil?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. You'd think there would be some capitalistic values in play, or even a price adjustment.

Ed said...

I'd suggest it's simple enumeracy; she just can't visualize that 1500 litres a day will use up 6000 litres in only four days when normally 6000 litres is "a lot". I've been noticing this sort of thing quite a bit recently: people making grotesque numeric errors because they have no idea what's a normal or abnormal number in context as a result of just passing numbers on without any attempt to internalize them.

I was making this point to a friend who's an accountant recently. He was a little sceptical so I asked him how long ago the dinosaurs died out, it being a number that's repeated quite often. He took my point a little more seriously when I told him his guess was out by a factor of 30 (he guessed 2 million years when it was actually 65 million - but at least he knew it was millions, not thousands or billions).

Captcha: adition

Aviatrix said...

In this case (and in many) the fuel vendor is a municipality. The airport is a public service they provide. I'm sure somewhere in the administration is someone who understands that fuel sales and hangar rent provide profit to balance the costs of cutting the grass and repairing the runway lights after gophers chew through the wires, but it's quite possible that responding to pilots' complains about the airport seven days a week is a minor part of this person's main duties to the city.

She seemed on the first call to be eager to cooperate with our need for a continuous supply of fuel. I suspect Ed is correct and that the notion of "6000/1500 = 4" didn't cut in to override "6000 is a lot."