My father drilled into my head at the tender age of 16 that I should never, ever, ever, ever let my car’s fuel gauge fall below 1/4 of a tank.
This would have left more of an impression on me if my ’71 VW Bug had had a working fuel gauge at the time.
But make no mistake, that car was wonderful. If I made a right turn too fast, the passenger door would fly open and the horn would honk. I kid you not. If I had the windshield wipers on at the same time I had the radio playing, the music would stop every time the blades hit the top of their arc. I KID YOU NOT. There was an enormous crater of a dent in the front of the car from when the previous owner had, er, miscalculated. This, of course, led us to name the junker “Dimples.”
I never ran out of gas with Dimples because I was so full of anxiety about it that I would stop and top it off every chance I got. (Back when gasoline was less than $1.00 a gallon!)
My subsequent cars had working fuel gauges, thankfully. Life was good. I never ran out of gas. Of all the automobile-related calamities that befell me during my youth, never once did I have to make the call, “Um, Mom, can you bring me some gas?”
So last week, after I had loaned my car to a friend and forgotten that he warned me that he had not had a chance to refill my gas tank, I found myself driving a lonely country road in this situation:
ACK! HOLY CRAP!!!!!
I did the first thing that any woman on the brink of panic would do in such a situation, and immediately whipped out my cell phone to record this calamity for future comedic use on my blog. I believe that I read maneuver in a driving manual once.
You’ll note that my speedometer reads 25 MPH, despite my absolutely empty tank. How can this be, you ask?
Simple! I was coasting down a rather lengthy hill.
And there, at the bottom of the hill on this lonely country road, was a Mom-and-Pop Gas station that, filthy and run down as it was, seemed like Nirvana to me.
I coasted down into the station in a blaze of triumphant glory, and began pumping that liquid gold into the tank as happily as a little girl while laughing and dancing a 220 lb jig.
Which freaked Mom-and-Pop out.
The lesson here?
Always start your novice drivers out in dangerously broken down beaters. It will give them the survival tools they’ll need later on in life.
At least, that’s all I came away with.