Have you ever ran out of gas? Or perhaps I should say: When was the last time you ran out of gas? In your car, I mean.
It seems like you don’t see that happening that much anymore. People stumping along the side of the road carrying a red jerry can, swearing a blue streak. A dead car about a mile away. That used to be pretty common, at least in my world. Especially when my old ’57 Triumph TR3 had a leaky gas tank.
So, anyway, the other day, I was almost late when I noticed I was also almost out of gas. I pulled into the last service station on the way out of town and put my card in the pump (mumbling to myself about the dumb price of gas) and got that dumb message that I had to “pay inside”. So since I was almost late for my appointment 20 km away, I grumbled some more and stumped reluctantly inside. Whilst in there I was momentarily distracted by picking out some snacks and then I paid the young lady at the till for my goodies plus $40 worth of gas which at the price of liquid gold, is probably around two squirts of the gas nozzle.
So I head back out to the car. I get in. I drive away. Munching on snacks.
That’s right – I had paid for my gas, and forgotten to get any. Just walked out and drove away. I kid you not.
It wasn’t until about 10 kms later that I noticed something on the dash. My gas light is now suddenly shining brightly. A lot more brightly than my brain which had apparently dimmed significantly.
So I shake my head to wake up my dim brain and I seem to remember that when the low gas light comes on I have around 50 kms left in the tank – give or take. So I push the resent button on my odometer to zero the tripmeter, which I thought was a pretty good move for a guy who had just forgotten to get gas after he’d paid for it. It’s too far to turn around and I have to get to this meeting so I try to decide whether to go faster to get there sooner or go slower to save on gas. I do neither. All the while kilometers are tripping away – along with my brain.
I finally get to the meeting hall, and my helpful cohorts help me by making sure I phone the service station where the young lady on the till remembers me (of course she does) and tells me that a person had pulled up to my pump and started filling up on my prepaid $40!
Thankfully the till girl ran out and collected the moola from the person gassing up and also thankfully the excellent till girl thought it was all quite hilarious. I, however, not so much.
Long story short – I managed to just barely make it back to town with both the car and me running on fumes. I got my $40 back. My tripmeter read 37 kms.
Oh, and I filled up the tank before I left the service station. Hey, I’m not THAT stupid.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.