About seven years ago, when the oil industry was transitioning from conventional drilling to its latest, horizontal methods, I did what would be, for me, a bold and discreet thing: I bought direct stock in three gas and oil companies, to hold.

This I did outside of the advice or counsel of either a broker or financial advisor; rather, some email purveyor had convinced me to make the move.


So, methane.

And, direct poisoning.

Since nobody I knew was aware that I owned holdings, I kept the stock. And, I watched it grow. No, scratch that; I watched it inflate.

Having had some training in options trading I knew that, when the stock price reached a certain point, there was definitely some serious overvaluing going on. In fact, on the day that the portfolio peaked, I remember thinking: “I should sell this crap, and then use the profits to fight these people.”

But, of course, I did not.

Call it sloth.

Call it anything you will. I just let it all sit there.

So, this past week, when oil prices plummeted and we were all rejoicing at the price of fuel, I was afraid to look. My self-satisfied and noble plan to sell and then get proactive was sucked away as fast as a ShopVac nails sewage on a bathroom floor. Now, I was looking at a loss of principal which, to the uninitiated, means the cash I used to buy was now dropping into negative territory. I wasn’t losing profits, here; I was losing money.

So, what’s the moral?

Did I experience an acute case of cognitive dissonance – watching my investment get corrupted, and then poisoned, too afraid to go near it, to even acknowledge that I was connected to something so contaminating?

Can we hide from our own missteps?

One of the fledgling companies was bought out by a big petroleum; another one split its stock. The rest will continue to make history, time being relentless in its trudge. A few days ago, I quietly sold half, to take back some of my principal. All the advisors so often say that, when hit with a loss, one can only hold on and wait for the inevitable upswing. In the case of the mismanaged, increasingly greedy oil industry, however, I am probably pretty much fracked.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo


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