Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Best Gas Station... the one I passed a quarter mile back, up that hill.

There I sat, annoyed for not stopping, as the X-11's engine ticked and creaked.

As I was approaching the gas station, I was thinking about stopping there for a drink, not even thinking about the car's emptying belly. I decided to wait; there's another station up ahead.

I blazed along, going east on US-90, thrilling in the comfortable rumble of the exhaust note, enjoying the cool breeze that was just barely enough to hold the noontime heat and humidity at bay.


Huh? Why's the car slowing down? The engine's still runn--er, no, it's not. I coasted into a shady spot on the shoulder, hoping to get it running just long enough to go back uphill...nope.

Yes, the pointy thing on the gas gauge was solidly on "E." I've been driving the car for a solid year, but I'm still not really used to the gas gauge. On her "little sister"--the '83 Citation I had to get rid of because of neighborhood douchebaggery--there was some leeway. The needle could go about one and a half widths of the needle below EMPTY before the tank was dry. On the X-11, when she says it's empty, you get gas or walk.

So I was walking.

Wallet, phone, keys. Shaking my head at my own foolishness, I set out westbound, Shank's Mare moving much more slowly than my empty car had been. Scorchingly bright sunlight blasted down. People with gas in their tanks zipped past. About halfway up the hill ahead of me, on the opposite side of the road, a red truck sat, a lone guy standing beside it. As I drew closer, a silver car slowed and deposited another guy on my side of the road, gas can in one hand. He joined his fellow and poured. When they noticed me, they hollered for me to hop in for the rest of the uphill trip.

They hung out, gave me the gas can, and I bought each a Coke. Back down the hill. I assured them the car would start up (second mistake!), but didn't pour enough in the carburetor to keep the engine running long enough to get fuel out of the tank. They were gone by the time I realized it wasn't going to work.

That shady spot had moved about a car-length east of me, so I had plenty of light to see by.

I poked around under the hood. No gas at the carb...maybe those same fuel hoses that went out in June of last year had failed again? No fumes. I realized I was about to hike back up the hill again--had to have more gas and maybe someone with jumper cables, since I'd run down the battery trying to get fuel moving. Third mistake! The shady spot moved another car length while I poked.

Wallet, phone, keys, gas can. Shaking my head again at my own foolishness (and sending rivulets of sweat down from my hairline and into my eyes), I set out westbound, Shank's Mare moving even more slowly than before. As I neared the place where the red truck guys had picked me up, a different guy in a different red truck stopped and offered a ride. Awesome! Up the hill a second time.

He hung out, I filled the damn can again. I should have bought the guy a Coke, but I was in a hurry this time. Back down the hill. He brought a portable battery jump-box with him and this time, I did things right--primed the carb, got it running, then dumped the rest in the tank. I thanked my rescuer and we went our separate ways--he in his old red truck, me with my comfortably rumbling exhaust note (is she laughing at me?) and the breeze cooling and drying my sweaty hair and arms.

Back in the saddle again!

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