Mar 24, 2012

Running Out of Gas...and other stories...

In my lifetime, I've run out of gas 3 times (that I can remember). The first time I was in college up at Kansas State University and I had borrowed my brother's 1965 Ford Ranch Wagon one Sunday. (This is not an actual picture of it, it was gold, and no, I'm not that old that I was in college in 1965 - it was an OLD car.) This station wagon was STURDY to say the least - it was a 3-on-the-column manual transmission and had such a strong clutch, that once I learned to drive this, I could drive any standard vehicle. (My older sister, Tricia, never could drive it, she's just too little. ;) )

Anyway, this time that I ran out of gas wasn't really that interesting - I ran out in a neighborhood, walked to the nearest gas station, got a can of gas...and you know the rest.

I mentioned this car was sturdy. Well, yes, it actually saved my mother's life in 1981 when she was broadsided by a semi-truck on the highway coming home from my brother's KSU graduation. She ended up in a small hospital in Kansas for 2 weeks, but thankfully her injuries were not life-threatening. My brother was with her, but not driving, and he only had minor injuries. We all fully believe if it had been any other vehicle she was in, she would not have survived. Yes, these are the actual photos and that's me on the side of the photo. This station wagon was carrying all my items from school because I was moving home for the summer. I had driven home the night before. It had been raining and my stuff was strewn all over a muddy field when the wagon was hit. I'm trying to see if I can salvage anything from the items the passers-by had picked up from the field and put back in the car before it was towed away.

The next time I ran out of gas was in my roommate's 1976 blue Camaro. (Not the actual car.)

 My friend, Dan Pekarek, from Joplin had come out to visit me in Phoenix. We were going tubing down the Salt River for the day. I had just bought my very first brand-new car - a 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS (pic not the actual car, but it looked just like this!) and my roommate suggested I take her old car down to the river so mine wouldn't get dirty and sandy.

I thought that was very nice and generous of her. Of course, that also meant she got to drive around my NEW car all day long. But anyway...we went tubing - got really sunburned, as usual - and were headed back into town when we ran out of gas. See, my roommate failed to tell me that her car ran out of gas when the gauge was at the 1/4 tank FULL mark. Grrr. We were able to get it off the road, but we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere, in 110 heat, no water, and this was pre-cell phone era. We had no choice, Dan and I had to hitchhike! For the record, if I had not had a guy with me, I would not have done it. Not sure what would have happened to me, but at least I didn't have to figure that out. Fortunately a nice person stopped in a pick-up truck and Dan and I jumped into the back and rode back to town. We were left off at a gas station, where I promptly called my roommate to pick us up and help us out.

The last time *I* ran out of gas was several years ago. My 4 boys were in grade school or younger and it was summer. We owned a 1999 Oldsmobile Silhouette van (not the actual pic - what, do you think I should have taken pictures of all my cars or something? It looked just like this.) and I decided to take the boys to Sonic for Happy Hour drinks.

I only had $5 with me, but that would be enough for our drinks since it was Happy Hour. :) While I was sitting in the drive-thru AFTER ordering our drinks, we ran out of gas. ACK!! I ran up to the window and asked if someone could push us over to the gas station right next door. The manager and another guy came out and helped us get there (the boys were all little and couldn't push). We bypassed getting the drinks because we were not up to the window yet and I said I would come back for them. Got to the gas station, it only accepted debit cards and cash. No credit cards. I pull out my debit card and then remembered, I had just gotten a new one and it was at home, this one was expired. So the $5 I was going to use for drinks, I had to use for gas. I wasn't able to go back to Sonic for the drinks. :( The boys were so disappointed and I was embarrassed and frustrated. So I went home, got my new debit card, and took them to McDonald's. It was quite a while before we went back to that Sonic.

You might be asking...why am I even writing about this? It's been so many years. But as luck would have it...I'm not done with running-out-of-gas stories. After all, 2 of my SONS now drive.

So yes, this past week, I was just getting out of the shower and had started drying my hair, and Wyatt calls..."Mom, I ran out of gas by Hanger Park."  Our high school is about a 1/2 mile away from our house and he ran out of gas on the way. Really? He was only about a block from school, so I told him to leave it and run to school. "But Mom, I'm in a No-Parking Zone and by the time I move it, I will be late to school and get swept!" (if you are late, you aren't allowed to go to first period, you are "swept" into a study hall room). O. M. G.!!! Me: "OK, fine, I will come down there and help you move it and take you to the office." How fun was that, moving that car while tons of people I know drive by. But we get it moved and I get Wyatt to school and he gets a late pass. The car is still stuck at the park.

Fortunately Grant was home for spring break this past week, so I made him get up and go with me to get gas. Stupid gas stations don't have cans you can borrow for a deposit anymore - did you know that? You have to buy ONE gallon of gas in a container for $15!!! I, of course, could not make myself do that. Instead I ended up at Home Depot buying an empty 2 gallon container that we can re-use for $15, then filling it with gas. (Not quite sure that was the smartest thing, but anyway...)  So we got the car gassed up, Grant drove it over to the school to park in Wyatt's parking spot and I picked him up.

Now, I'm hoping my empty-gas-tank days are over. It sure has taken me more than once to learn not to let that tank get so low. And after the lecture Wyatt got, and the trouble I put Grant through, let's hope they both learned something from this. But I kind of doubt it.