I’m not proud of it, but I’ve run out of gas at least four times in my life, each of them worse than the last. Except the third one. That’s tough to top. Anyway, here are the stories of these events. All dates approximate.
Sun, Jan 24, 2001 1:00am – I-95 on my way back to UMBC from PA on a Sunday night. I ran out of gas somewhere around Aberdeen and this predates my ownership of a cell phone. I had no idea which way was the closest exit, so I just started walking forward. After about a mile, my ankle reminded me that I had just ruptured my Achilles tendon about 4 months ago. Some random guy stopped saw the car about a mile back and saw me limping toward the exit in the freezing cold and put two and two together. He picked me up just as I was getting to the exit and drove me to get gas and a gas can and drove me back and wouldn’t let me give him any money. He just made me promise to help somebody else out someday. And that was 5 years ago now. Wow. I just made myself feel like an asshole. Well, it was a cool ending, but lacked the drama some of these next ones come with. B-
Sat, Aug 5, 2002 4:00pm – Route 1 just off I-195. Tony had just told me that his car got 400 miles to the tank and I wanted to try to see if my car could. I pushed it a little too far. On the plus side, I got just over 400 miles. On the minus side, I got about .25 miles less than I needed. I stalled out on my way down the exit and coasted to a stop on the way up a little tiny bridge just on the other side of a gas station. And nowhere to go. Fuck. I couldn’t drift far enough back to get on the shoulder and I couldn’t push it up either hill. So I shoved the car as far over as I could so only about half of it was in the right lane. Then I started to run to the gas station only about a 1/2 mile away. Meanwhile, some hick in a pickup truck stopped to pick me up and help me out. I really didn’t need it, but I didn’t want to belittle his attempt to help, so I obliged and got in the cab with his son. He drove me the rest of the way to the station and I filled up a new gas can (cause I never keep them) and he drove me back to my car, making racist comments the entire time I was with him. It wasn’t much, but I thought I’d offer him a few bucks to show I appreciated his help and to help his kid realize that good deeds go rewarded. He took it. Jerk. Exciting place to run out, but not a great conclusion. Though it was an idiotic reason to run out of gas in the first place. B+
Mon, Dec 27, 2004 1:00am – Ben Franklin Bridge. OK, I’m coming back from a Jersey bar after watching a meaningless Eagles game with Kevin, Leigh and a few friends. I took my parents car because mine doesn’t really have heat. I did not know that the gas gauge reads 1/8 of a tank when it’s really empty. So it starts to putter out just as I got to the tolls and I think “OK, I’ll just get gas as soon as we get into Philly.” Well, Kevin and I make it halfway up the bridge and… pfffftt. That word was supposed to represent the car running out of gas. This is very dangerous. I’m on a bridge in a car going over the Delaware River and all of a sudden, well, I’m not on a bridge in a car going over the Delaware River. But all the cars behind me think I am. Little do they know that I’m on a bridge in a car sitting still about 1/2 a mile above the Delaware River. So I put my blinkers on to signify to all the buses coming up on our ass at 60 mph (if you’re my mom, stop reading this now) to get the hell out of the way, there’s a big problem. And I definitely lost my cool. I was in fear for my life. Kevin, meanwhile, was writing a country song about it. Well, he was at least more relaxed than I was. I came up with a plan I thought was best at the time, to drift backwards down the bridge into Jersey to at least get onto a shoulder near the toll booth. As I’m doing this, a cop came up behind me. Thank God. I’ve never been so happy to see a cop before in my life. He puts his lights on and parks behind me. He comes up to the car and asks if I’ve been drinking. “Drinking?!? I’m out of gas halfway up the Ben Fucking Franklin Bridge and you’re asking me if I’ve been drinking?!? Who gives a fuck?! Yeah, I’ve been drinking officer, I’ve been drinking gas and I’m out. Now can you give me a fucking hand?!?!?” Actually, I think I said something like “no.” He tells me to put the car in neutral and he’ll come up behind and push me to safety. Brilliant! He even did it free of charge! So I was ecstatic when I got to Philly and pulled over. He asked if I had a plan to get out and I lied and said yes and he left. Whew! Thank God that was over! So I start to wander into North Philly to look for a gas station while Kevin gets the guitar out of the trunk and gets back to work in the car. I call my dad, who notifies me that I had just walked into like the heroin capital of Pennsylvania and tells me to get the hell out of there. So I do. This also happens to be the coldest night of winter to date and I’m in the middle of the city with an elf-looking Eagles hat on. And I’m with a guy dressed like a cowboy. I still can’t believe I didn’t get mugged. Well, thank God for cell phones. I called Leigh, who met me at an intersection I thought she could find and we did the part I’ve become a seasoned expert at by now. Elapsed time from running out of gas to leaving the scene = 2 hours. Danger factor = about as high as it can get. Other elements – freezing cold, heroin district, faulty design in gas can. A+
Mon, Jan 17, 2005 4:00am – In front of Mike’s place. (mom, you can start reading again) Mike and I had just gotten cheesesteaks in Philly and I was about to drop him off and go home. I knew I needed gas soon, but I didn’t know how soon (all the interior lights in my car don’t work – kind of romantic, very unhelpful). I figured it could wait until I dropped him off and I’d get it on the way back. Well, it might have, had we not sat in my car talking for about an hour. All of a sudden, pfffftt. Not again. Fucking twice in a month. At least I’m in a parking spot in front of a friend’s house who happens to have a car and doesn’t need to be at work until 5pm the following day. So we drive to my parent’s place and get the gas can that still has some gas in it from my parent’s car (which it never made it out of) and drive back to Mike’s place. Easy enough. Except for the faulty gas can that Kevin never showed me the trick of last time. So while I spilled gas all over the finger of my glove (and none in the tank), and kicked the gas cap so hard it broke, Mike was diligently pouring the gas into his water bottle and pouring the water bottle into the tank. The shit you learn when you get a history degree. The danger factor was as low as ever, but the idiocy factor makes up for it. As well as the fact that I’ll have to think about it everytime I get gas now, since the cap is broken. C+
I’m pretty sure I got ripped off by the gas station in Philly for the gas can. It’s kinda like a tow truck. They can overcharge, because they know you need the service. I have an idea for a way to make my millions. But anyway, I was pissed about it…
Me: “What kind of a place charges $9.00 for a gas can?”
Leigh: “What kind of a 30-yr-old man runs out of gas?”
OK, Rende. You win this round.
Running into the sun but I’m running behind,
Still Standing Right Here…