Wednesday, December 10, 2008

running on empty

I used to think that my car’s tank could hold about 17 gallons of gas. This estimation came from the fact that when I had driven for about as far as I felt was prudent after the low fuel warning light had been illuminated on my dash, I would fill ‘er up and the pump would click off after dispensing 16.8 or so gallons. Sure, I could crack open the owner’s manual and swiftly know the exact capacity of my gas tank, but what fun is that? I enjoy this little game I play with myself, this tempting of the empty tank gods.

The warning light is absurdly conservative. I’ve barely run below ¼ tank when it lights up, and although my mother used to preach: “pretend you’re on empty at ¼ tank and you’ll never run out of gas”, that kind of living offends my delicate sense of rebellion. I mock that light, that light is for chumps.

My husband sees the warning light as a sign of certain and impending doom. He fears he must stop at the next visible gas station or the air raid sirens will scream and the SWAT team will descend. Silly, silly Billy. I’ve coasted for days on the juices of my empty tank, never content until experiencing the unique satisfaction of at least 16.8 gallons. Ha! Take that you nerd warning light!

Getting gas scores just slightly higher than going to the bank on my boring time-suck scale. I avoid filling up at generally inconvenient times. I prefer to wait until the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, preferably when I am late to at least two consecutive activities. The road from my house to Costco is all downhill. The gas can always wait until tomorrow. And to you naysayers, I proclaim that I have only run out of gas a handful of times in my entire life, and not once since I got that sissy warning light.

Sometimes I know that I’m pushing it too far. My car feels weirldy light, like I might just fly off the road on a sharp turn, and was that a hiccup in acceleration as I gunned it up the big hill? I was nervous yesterday; I had gone well past my comfort zone and breathed an audible sign of relief when I sputtered into the Costco lot. And you know what? 18.3 gallons, baby.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Jacquie, You are such a rebel.

The Westy will run out of gas once the needle hits that orange zone -- no sissy bells or whistles for our old girl. But Mistah is worse than Mom ever was. His dad used to pretend emptiness at 1/2 tank!
As *if*.

Chumps, the lot of 'em.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

I just came from filling up your downhill Costco, and my gas warning light only came on yesterday....

My car has a "sissy bell" -- a DTE (distance unTill empty) display, which tells me just how many miles I have before I'm completely out of gas. I have to admit that the lowest number I've read on this dsiplay is 4 miles. Maybe I need to woman up and see what happens if it dips under 1 mile?


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Okay, too early I guess, I meant to write:

filling up at your Costco



NucMEd is Hot said...

I love the gas game. I have a 24 gallon tank according to the manual, but I never can tell how serious the guage is about when I might run out of gas. The closest I got was 23.4 one day this summer. You remember when gas was mor ethan my mortgage.

I'm glad someone else is like this too.

Anonymous said...

Golly, I love the gas game, too. Unfortunately the evil gnome in my motorcycle tank won today and I had to push my bike about a 1/2 mile today, damn it. And it was all because of you, Jacquie, forgetting to tell us to knock knock knock on wood.


Kathi D said...

I really hate getting gas, but I hate the thought of running out more. Rick likes to push it to the limit, with the result that we have been gasless on more than one occasion, resulting in marital tension. He has gotten a bit better about it.

Michele said...

Points for you!

My husband is the same way. When our diesel truck hits 1/4 tank he finds the first gas station with diesel. Granted, you never want to run out of fuel with a diesel because it takes a mechanic to get it started again but I don't let a little thing like that stop me from pressing the line.

Anonymous said...

A very lazy and self-indugent post, I must say, and yet one that is very much at home here in this "3-way" blog. Didn't I watch a Seinfeld episode on this subject almost 10 years ago? The dramatic tension of an almost-empty gas tank juxtaposed with inane observational humor is just so... Well you get the idea. I'm just too bored to finish this. Ciao,

-l'ignoto critico

Me, You, or Ellie said...

As if you could stay away. Unknown, my ass.