Running Out of Gas · 3 April 2010

Some might call it Karma or fate, but I just call it stupidity. After all, it was just a couple weeks ago when I wrote about almost running out of gas. So after tempting the gas gauge one too many times, I finally did it. I ran out of gas.

The worst part of the whole story was that I knew I needed to get gas. I was on the way home from work when I checked my gasoline log to see how far I had gone. Just over 300 miles. I knew I was close to empty and I was right next to the gas station. But instead of filling up right then, I kept going. I wanted to get home and figured that I could fill up in the morning on the way to work like I usually do every couple weeks. After all, it was only two miles.

I would have been fine had I actually remembered to fill up in the morning. I went right by the gas station without any thought of how much gas was in the tank. Until I heard the engine splutter. I was about three miles from the station so if I had turned around immediately, I might have made it back and been able to fill up. Unfortunately, I had remembered my own estimation of how far I could get when the engine was gasping for gasoline. That estimation of 20 miles was off by a factor of 10. I only made it a mile or so before the tank was completely empty. My truck was dead on the side of the road.

Before I was completely out of gas, I figured that I was not going to make it to Duvall, so I turned around. I hoped and prayed that I would be able to get back to the station. Alas, it was not to be. I only made a little way up the road.

The worst part of running out of gas, is of course, running out of gas. But running a close second, was that my wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, less than 24 hours before had said that I need a cell phone. At least a disposable one for emergencies. Or stupidity. If I had had one, I could have called her and gotten her to bring me some fuel in a five-gallon tank that we have at home. As it was, I ended up walking back toward town to find a kind person with a phone.

After walking for just over a mile and not getting an answer at one farmhouse with its lights on, I got to a place where somebody could call home for me. While walking a mile is not very far, walking a mile on a busy highway in the dark, on the wrong side of the road is not what I wanted to be doing at 6 o’clock in the morning. I was walking with traffic in case somebody would take pity on me after seeing my truck with its emergency flashers on and figuring the poor soul walking was the owner. (After that harrowing experience, I will not be hitch hiking any time soon.)

After a little wait by the side of the road, my oldest son, Thing 1, brought me some gas and picked me up in front of the house where I had gotten my emergency message out from. We went to my truck. I put the gas in the truck and went to work. My son had bailed me out without so much as a smirk. (I think he was too tired.) Unfortunately, I was not so fortunate when I got to work.

I had called Linda, the head secretary at our school, with Thing 1’s cell phone while I was on the side of the road filling the truck with gas. I wanted to let her know that I would probably be a little late. When I got to school, the first person who greeted me already knew that I had run out of gas. Of course, he is in my class first period, but he was outside the classroom and was nice compared to everybody else. When I got into the classroom, everybody was already there (Linda had opened the door for them). I was barraged with questions about whether it was really true that I ran out of gas. I told them that it was. Most of them giggled or smiled a bit, but I was not really ridiculed much. They all probably knew that The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi would do enough for all of them. (Which she did, but that is not part of the story.) I did have one student quote me about taking my chances and not changing gas gauge sensor, but even that was just a footnote to the whole incident. But the announcements and flag salute mercifully stopped the teasing. Thankfully, there was no announcement about me running out of gas.

The best part of running out of gas was realizing that I work with colleagues who care about each other. One of the teachers who drives down Highway 203 thought he saw me as I was standing there waiting for Thing 1 to pick me up. He thought it was me, but being unsure, he kept driving. Then, about a mile down the road, he saw my truck sitting on the other side of the road with its flashers on. Scott turned around to help me. But when he got back to where he saw me standing, I was already gone. Apparently, he did the little loop a couple times and just missed seeing me. While I was still filling the truck, he stopped on the other side of the road to make sure everything was fine. I was very appreciative that Scott was looking out for me.

The world is certainly not as cynical as we often think it is. My colleagues and friends, especially Linda and Scott looked out for me and laughed with me when I finally got to school (before class started). The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and Thing 1 rescued me. And the lady who made the telephone call for me helped me through my ordeal. All of them helped me get through my own stupidity. Without too much ridicule.

Besides reaffirming how wonderful people are, I know that running out of gas and my other follies and foibles bring smiles to people’s faces. Not only can we all laugh at what idiotic things I have done, we can read about them over and over again if we choose. After all, whenever I do something dumb, I start to write about it almost before it is over. But as much as I enjoy laughing with people who enjoy my misfortune, hopefully, this will be the last of the running out of gas stories.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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