Despite the fact that I am able to pack in an impressive 12 hours of sleep each day (who needs mornings?), this blog is not about running out of gas in the colloquial sense. Mama Crow is quite fond of the colloquial use-- a descriptor of the level of sleepiness that comes between tuckered out and zonked-- so if you want a story about a nap, maybe I can get the two of you in touch. This is my story about running out of gas in my car.
Not one week prior to this event, I was driving along and thinking about how I had yet to get a flat tire or run out of gas in all my years of driving. I knew it was about time for one of these things to happen, so perhaps I was subconsciously tempting fate or concocting some sort of preemptive strike. I wasn't about to go jab a nail in my tire, but flirting with the life cycle of the fuel light seemed like a decent idea. I thought about what I might do if I were to find myself in this sort of automobile emergency situation and ruefully remembered the many, many years that had passed since I earned the Auto Maintenance Badge in Girl Scouts.
Testing the limits of the fuel light is not a new story for me. I am one of those that has faith in few things other than the fact that the E on my dashboard stands for Enough. Or at least, "Eh, we'll make it this time." So my fuel injector is probably shedding a few tears about this. No worries. It's not capable of real emotion.
Once, on a late night road trip through New England my lax fueling instincts caused a bit of tension. One of my more Type A friends was at the wheel and started freaking out because we were in the middle of rural Massachusetts with just half a tank of gas. In her eyes, we obviously needed to find a service station PRONTO. I remember leaning in looking over at the fuel gauge from my spot in shotgun and telling her, "What are you talking about? We won't need gas for another 2 states." Not my most sensitive of moments, but I've lived with a Type A person long enough to realize that whatever I said wasn't going to allay her fears.
So, on Thanksgiving morning, I hopped into my car (it's called Pony as in "Ride the White Pony" or "Daddy Bought Me a Pony" which is only partially true) intent on going to the zoo. The Oregon Zoo was offering free admission on Thanksgiving, so even though my orange fuel light had been on for two or three days and the MAX is a short walk from my house, I wasn't about to pay for a light rail ticket. I was going to drive. I justified this maneuver by stopping at my friend's house to look after their cats on my way home.
So, I go up to the zoo (my favorite exhibits were the bats, the hippos and the baby elephant) and wander around for a couple of hours before feeding, watering and giving pets and playtime to my friend's two cats. I cruise home and round the corner for the primo parallel parking spot in front of my building. Then, with a slight shudder, I'm out of gas. No fanfare, or electric bells of congratulation. Just a few more lights flashing on my dashboard. I turn on my hazards, roll down the window and laugh on of those guttural, throw your head back and end with an ironic sigh sort of laughs that accompanies incidents akin to running out of gas in front of your own house.
I got out of my car, and pushed it up parallel to the truck ahead of the empty spot. I turned the wheel (now with a new admiration for power steering) through the window and backed into the spot. Some dude on his cell phone watched me the entire time, laughing and loudly narrating my plight to his friend. On my way into the building, I waved at him and said, "Thanks for your help!" This cued him to come over and ask if I needed help or something. Uh, maybe five minutes ago, buddy.
In true crowcrastinating form, I left the car parked there overnight. I didn't have any place I needed to go and I had a Feast for One sitting in my fridge waiting to be cooked. The next morning I walked the 2.5 miles to my friend's house to look in after the cats, stopping to ask if I might borrow a gas can at another friend's house at the midway point on my walk. While I was with the kitties, my friends returned from their trip a day early and I took out my keys in order to return the set to their apartment.
I walked back home, stopping for a cookie and to pick up a gallon of gas in a red plastic tub for half of the journey. I walk up to my house when I realize I don't have my keys. I call my friends, but they're tired from a 20 hour train ride and can't find them. I think about back tracking, but I'm tired and hungry. I need another solution.
For security purposes, I probably shouldn't detail the ease and faculty involved in climbing in through my bathroom window. Let's just say, it would have been substantially more difficult had I not accidentally left the window unlocked.
To end, Pony's back in the saddle again. My keys were located. I have a lovely collection of bruises on my stomach from the window frame. And this Thanksgiving, I was thankful that I ran out of gas so close to home.