Sunday, November 7, 2010

Out of Gas

First of all, let me start by telling you that I drive a gas guzzler. A bona fide, dinosaur, big-hunk-o-metal jeep. A 79 Grand Wagoneer to be exact. And I love it. I really do. The kids like to play a game where they point out another vehicle on the road and we try to guess which of us would survive the impact of a collision. The jeep usually theory of course.

The downside to driving such a safe vehicle is that I can't afford the gas. Theoretically I guess that makes it safer since it's usually parked somewhere and not on the road. But I digress... I have to plan my trips away from the house very carefully. I don't make random side trips and I'm very efficient at getting from point "A" to point "B" with the least amount of fuel waste. I know ahead of time if I'm going to have to make a trip somewhere and I plan accordingly. And yes, I do get testy if I have to drive somewhere that is not on the schedule because I know exactly how much gas I have to work with for the week.

Friday I drove kids to the Springer for the One Act Play competition. We made it down there fine and parked and walked where we needed to go for the day. All was well. When it came time to go, I knew we needed to stop and get gas. I also knew exactly which gas station I was headed to. It was the same one that I stop at on the way home from downtown on many nights after a trip to karaoke. The jeep knows the way even without me.

So we're headed to the gas station and I feel a hesitation. Not. Good. I can SEE the gas station but I can also see a yellow light. If I keep going, I will be going through the intersection "probably" okay but "maybe" while the light is somewhere between yellow and red. We'll call it orange. I assess the situation and realize that one of the children in the car is not from my DNA so I hit the brakes. Mis. Take.

When I hit the brakes, the gas left in the tank sloshed forward and away from the fuel line, causing the jeep to sputter and the engine to die. Even though the light has not come on, I know that I don't have the gas to start it one more time and get it to the station (that I can SEE) unless it starts on the first try and at the moment the light turns green. So I wait. And as the light turns, I try to start the jeep and it DOES start but only long enough to stall out again.

What to do? What to do? The girls get out and push me the 20 yards it takes to get around the corner and off of Wynnton Road. But now we're sort of just stuck here. So of course I think "I'll post this on Facebook!" I put out a distress call that I was sitting there out of gas with no gas can and within 2 minutes I already had offers to help. All in all, six people responded and one even offered to go buy a gas can and bring it to us! In the end, my friend Patsy from high school (who herself was sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire) drove to us and brought us a gas can with a gallon of gas in it, which was exactly what we needed to get to the gas station.

So what did we learn? Besides the obvious...I now have a gas can in my jeep...we learned that people genuinely want to help. They will go out of their way to be helpful for near strangers and friends alike if they know that there is a need. Once the need is identified, people DO care enough to help out. We also discovered that two hours is not that long when you have three singers in the car. We sang everything from Sugarland to Christmas carols. And we laughed a lot.

We learned that grownups and teenagers won't get bored when they hang out together if they just open up and communicate. And that we're not that different when it comes down to it. We learned that Facebook (and the Blackberry) are useful tools when it gets right down to it. Someone commented that they would have never thought to post a distress call on FB. But social media is used heavily by a lot of people and it never hurts to have 700+ friends who care about what happens to you!

We also learned that every situation can be a blessing. Some people might have been really stressed or irritated about finding themselves out of gas on a cold November evening. We just saw it as an opportunity to hang out and I got to see a friend from high school (and junior high school!) that I hadn't seen since 1985. Lots of memories surfaced of hanging out with Patsy at Martha's birthday parties and staying up all night talking, and of my friends who were in the band with her. It was a good thing.

By the way... Most of the people who offered to help were Raiders. I'm just saying. We DO look out for our own!!

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