Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I always wait until pretty much the last possible minute to get gas. I figure that when my gas light goes on, I still have at least 35 miles left in my tank. In fifteen years of driving, I have never run out of gas. That is, until last week.

The kids and I were going out to lunch, and my gas light came on right before we got to the restaurant. After we ate, I had to run Emma to summer camp, which was probably a good twenty miles away from the restaurant. Once I had dropped her off, I drove past a couple gas stations in Kansas in order to get to a gas station in Missouri, where gas is cheaper. Just as I was pulling into QuikTrip, my car died. I felt pretty silly, sitting there completely blocking traffic into the parking lot. Luckily, several strong and helpful bystanders helped push my car up to one of the pumps. Embarrassing, but certainly not the hassle it could have been, had I been any farther away. I was sort of surprised that I had run out of gas, but I just chalked it up to waiting too long and resolved to get gas in a more timely manner from there on out.

Fast forward to today. This morning when I was running errands, I noticed that my gas was getting pretty low. We were all getting hungry for lunch so I headed home, but resolved to get gas later that afternoon on my way to pick Emma up from camp, in order to avoid another embarrassing experience running out of gas. I was totally patting myself on the back for planning to get gas before my gas light was even on. When we went to get Emma, in addition to getting gas, I had to run by my brother's house (which is about a mile past the gas station) and drop off a vase of roses as a congratulatory surprise for my sister-in-law, who is taking the bar exam this week. The gas gauge was low but not too low and the light was still not even on and I had plenty of time, so I decided to pass the gas station and drop off the flowers first. As I was sitting at the stoplight next to the same QuikTrip where I previously ran out of gas, in my attempt to drive past it and on to my brother's house, my car died. Wonderful. The light turned green and I was just sitting there, completely blocking the lane and feeling helpless and ridiculous. Could I possibly have run out of gas again? Luckily, I was on a slight hill, so I shifted into neutral and sort of coasted off to the side and partway into an empty parking lot that is across the street from the gas station. Being slightly distracted, I momentarily took my hand off the vase, causing it to immediately fall and empty itself all over the floor of my car. Lovely.

I was hoping that I was really just out of gas instead of something worse being wrong, but it seemed weird because, like I said, my gauge showed that I still had plenty of gas to be driving around. There was only one way to find out so I unbuckled Noah and Allie and carried them across the busy street to QT. I bought a small (and ridiculously expensive) one gallon gas can then went outside to fill it up. I was nervous that Allie and Noah would be trying to run around the bustling parking lot while I was filling up the can, and in my haste to get it done and make sure they were safe at the same time, I managed to spray huge amounts of gas all over myself and them. Nice. Because of that, and because I was trying to hold on to the kids at the same time, I ended up not filling the can all the way, because how much gas do I really need to drive across the street anyway?

Thinking that the ordeal was almost over, I carried Allie and the gas can and held Noah's hand while we again crossed the busy street with no crosswalk in the sweltering heat, and hoping that no one I knew was driving by. I buckled the kids back into their seats, poured the small amount of gas into the tank, and was ready to go. The car started, drove about two feet, and died again! GAH! Apparently driving across the street uses more gas than I thought. I think because I was parked on a hill that my gas tank was tilted in such a way that that gas I put in did me absolutely no good. So. Unbuckled kids, schlepped back across busy hot street again, put more gas in stupid small gas can without dousing anyone in the process this time, and trudged back across the same darn intersection again. I know I was hot and sweaty from the heat, but I think humiliation played a big part as well.

Finally it worked and I was able to drive across the street to fill up. Hooray! After all this, I have come to a pretty obvious conclusion: my gas gauge is broken.

I am glad that I left early enough that I was still not late to pick up Emma, even after all the gas shenanigans. I am also happy that it happened right across the street from the gas station instead of somewhere farther away, which would have been much more unfortunate, especially considering that Steve was in Tulsa at the time, and therefore pretty useless in such situations. The kiddos were in good spirits, despite the fact that they were also hot and sweaty, so overall I guess I should be thankful that the whole experience wasn't much worse than it actually was!
P.S. I think I have a number of run-on sentences in this post, so well done if you read it all and understood what I was trying to say.


Nicki said...

That was hilarious. Maybe you should think about a AAA membership! I used to always wait until after my light came on to get gas. Then my light burned out-I ran out of gas on the side of the highway. I was still in high school-parents not impressed. Now I'm much more paranoid but enough time has now passed that I'm getting pretty lax and have been relying on the light again. Have AAA though!

Chick in the Czech said...

Oh no! My roses will be extra special now knowing all of the hard work you had to go through to deliver them. Are you going to get your gas gauge fixed? I know people whose gas gauges broke and were never fixed.

Mom said...

Oh, Sweetie, you are such a good storyteller!

Laura said...

Oh, no, a broken gas gauge! Sounds like your kiddos were good sports about the whole process - probably gave them something to talk to Daddy about. =) How fortunate you were still early enough to get Emma on time. And look, now you have a over-priced gas can should you ever need it again!

Katie said...

LOL! Dont feel too bad...I do the same thing!

On one of my drives home I saw that i had an 8th of a tank of gas when i went through columbia & figured I could make it to kingdom city. Because my gauge didnt read empty when my car died, i figured something else was wrong with it. I sat at exit 144 for about 3 hours waiting for a friend with a tow truck to get me & bring me home. D'oh!!

Now we ALWAYS stop in columbia. :)

Allison said...

Oh my gosh Sarah, what a day! I'm glad you were near the gas station.
Our gas gauge doesn't work either, when I first started driving the van I ran out of gas for the first time in my life.
When I get gas i write down the mileage and the date, that seems to work for me. Maybe some day we'll get it fixed.

I realized last week that I miss a lot of your posts, so I'm finally reading and commenting. We need to go to lunch soon.