It all started with my fifth viewing of The Watchmen. I heard it was playing in a hotel room in downtown Zaulem and decided that it would be worth the trip. Not exactly true, but true enough that I did end up watching the movie in a hotel room.

There’s never a good time to run out of gas. Never a good place.

Some times and some places, of course, are less bad than others.

Downtown Zaulem at one in the morning, for example, would be one of those times and places that are not less bad than many.

My friend Al Cavanaugh, a lawyer from Colosse, has a court case in Cascadia and flew up. I was running a little late picking him up at the airport, so even though I knew that I needed to refill the gas tank, I decided that I would do it immediately after we left the airport. With my gas tank running that low, there was no way that I would forget. Except, of course, that there is a lot that happens when picking someone up at the airport that pushes rather pertinent things, like a fuel gauge hanging on the other side of empty, out of one’s mind. By the time we got back in the car, we were already getting caught up on how things were going with one another that it completely escaped my mind until I glanced down when we parked at the lot adjacent to his hotel room. Then I did what I should have done at the airport. The one thing that makes me never forget to refill the gas tank.

Al and I went out to eat and had a couple martinis. The waiter got both of our main dishes wrong and I’m racking my brain trying to figure out how the bill came out to $40. But that didn’t matter nearly as much as the confirmation that the movie was indeed on the PPV in his room. We were rockin’. The movie ended at about fifteen after twelve and I needed to make a hasty exit. Partly because I was getting sleepy, partly because lots in Zaulem have this really irritating tendency to close at midnight. Seriously, why what use is a parking lot that you can’t leave your car parked at least until the bars close?

Fortunately, tired though I was, I did do that thing earlier that makes me never forget to refill the gas tank. Basically, whenever my gas tank is running feverishly low, I place a jacket, shirt, or rag on my steering wheel. Its the string on my finger for that particular issue. So when I got to the car, I knew what to do. I also knew that looking at the gas gauge, I didn’t have much time to do it. So I consulted my good friend Gippers where the nearest gas station was. I was in luck! There was a Shell station (my favorite!) a half-mile away. I forgot, however, that the half-mile was as the crow flies. The route it had me take had me going in all sorts of directions. I would have been suspicious, but Zaulem seems to be one of those cities where what seems like the quickest way to get somewhere isnt always. So in Gippers I trusted. Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the gas gauge that I missed a couple of turns, making my trip longer.

Then the stalling began. My car would stall any time I was parked at an incline. Fortunately, it restarted each time. But every time it did that it took a little piece of my sanity with it. It’s never good to run out of gas, but on an incline? In the middle of a startlingly dark and closed city? With no gas station nearly? It was all a good reminder as to why I don’t typically mess with the gas gauge. I have a long and unproud history of running out of gas, but I’ve been a lot better about it lately. Unfortunately, this was one of those times where my car mileage was doing unusually poorly and the near-outage caught me out-of-rhythm. The rhythm being the various Shell stations I can stop at between home and work, where I am prepared at just about any time to be running dangerously low on gas.

The car made it, fortunately. The gas station was in a rather lively part of town. There was a dude dressed as Elvira and all manner of people wearing all sorts of demarcations of individuality and hippitude. It made for some interesting people-watching as I filled up my gas tank, paying more than $3 a gallon for the first time in a long time but so very glad to have the opportunity to pay it.

Category: Road

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3 Responses to Not A Less Bad Time and Place

  1. Linus says:

    How do you manage it? I’ve never once run out of gas. Although I think I’ve come close a few times, it’s always been on road trips out West where stations can be few and far between.

  2. trumwill says:

    For a few years I drove a car where the gas gauge didn’t work and there was no tripometer. Beyond that, it’s usually been because for some reason or another my car got a lot less mileage than usual on a particular tank of gas (either because I didn’t fill it up enough or it spent a lot more time in stop/start traffic).

  3. Becky says:

    When I got my new car, I totally forgot to look at the gauge b/c my previous car always dinged to let me know that the tank was low. So, I had my SIL and nieces visiting and realized I needed to haul ass to a gas station and I just happened to live in a part of town that has very few and I wound up running out just a couple of blocks from it. It wasn’t too bad, except for the cars blowing by me at 40 mph that were about six inches from my butt when trying to refill. My nieces (who were 2 & 4 at the time) thought it was hilarious!

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