March 11, 2016
Running Out of Gas
I am one of those people who notices the small things. Like a missing comma or someone's label sticking out. (See the Tale of Leona Helmsley's Label. Click here.) If I see a painting in someone's house that's hanging a tad low on one side, I'll give the opposite corner a gentle flick when no one is looking.
What I don't see is when the gas gauge in my car is on "EMPTY." Don't tell my husband, but today I got as low as only 6 miles reserve to get to a gas station. When I got into the car, I asked Siri how many miles it was to my home address.
"It's approximately 8 miles from here to that address," my male Siri said in his robotic Wales accent.
The meter said that I had 13 miles left in the gas tank. That means I had 5 miles leeway before my car ran out of gas on the side of the highway. Thinking strategically, I thought it best to not waste a single drop of gas. So I turned off the radio and heat. Unplugged my phone charger. Intermittently, I turned off the windshield wipers in the slight drizzle. (I didn't want to tax car's electrical system.)
I thought of turning off at an earlier exit, but once off that exit, I couldn't trust GPS would get me to the "nearest" gas station.
So I pulled not stops in trying to conserve gas. If you happened to have passed me on 287, yes, that was me driving 45-miles an hour in the far right lane. When I got to a hill, I used the force of gravity to coast down as long as I could.
As I drove slowly, I looked at the meter running so very low. I had four more exits to to. There was something thrilling going on: "Would I make it to a gas station?"
Then self-doubt blammed in. "How did I not see the warning signal and not fill up the car with gas this morning?"
Then, "OMG. My husband will kill me if he finds out I didn't pay heed to the warning light on the dashboard that I needed gas.
I finally/finally/finally coasted off at my exit, which, BTW, was gloriously down hill, so I didn't have to accelerate the gas pedal.
With just a few tenths of a mile remaining, I saw the Shell sign in the distance. Still full of self-doubt as to whether I would make, I held my breath and continued blazingly into the night at the lightening speed of, now, 30 miles per hour.
By the time I drove into the station, my car was sputtering. Even the strength of the headlights was starting to wane.
I can tell if a font needs to be decreased, or a color needs to be hotter, but noticing that the gas tank is running on empty is not in my wheelhouse.