Stories and thoughts about family and life

Own it

on October 3, 2013

I swore to my very dear friend who was texting with me last night that I wasn’t going to share this with ANYone, but the longer the situation went on, the funnier it became.  So now you’re the ‘lucky’ recipient of an story of interesting social experiments, malfunctioning equipment and, well, stupidity.

First, I’m going to give a little disclaimer (so I don’t look so stupid, if truth be told).   Two years ago my vehicle needed a new fuel pump, which we discovered in the middle of Nowhere Mississippi as we were heading home from Disney World.  About a year later, my fuel gauge developed a mind of its own and never accurately showed how much gas was left (sometimes full, sometimes empty, sometimes you could literally watch it move).  Turns out the fuel pump was going out again, and Firestone had to replace it.    So, about a week ago, my gauge decided to have a mind of its own again.      Disclaimer complete.  What happens beyond here is my own stupidity.  I’m always telling my boys when they make a mistake they should own it.  You might look stupid for a few minutes, but you learn something or you help teach someone else something.  Own it and stand up for what you did.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

When I pulled into the parking lot at our office yesterday morning, my fuel light came on.  I wasn’t too worried–I wasn’t driving anywhere serious and I had plenty of time later to get gas.  I drove a half mile to lunch and back, and then left a little early to run some errands for a fundraiser I am working on for Friday night.  Leaving the parking lot for the first place I visited, my ABS light comes on, and then my parking brake.  Reasoning that my garage is still open, I call them and drive the 5 miles or so out there to have them check my vehicle.  They look everything over, take it for a test drive (another couple of miles), and tell me it’s good and I go on my way.  I resume running my errands and drive about 10 miles to the next place I needed to be.  Then I proceed to drive another 10 miles or so.  Now, granted, I know I’m running out of gas, and this is my last errand, so my plan is to do this, get gas, and go home.

As I pull out of the parking lot for my last errand, I pull onto Rahling Road in west Little Rock and head for Chenal.  The time is about 5:35.  I pull up to the intersection and stop at the light, and my truck dies.  No real warning–just dies.  I try to restart it–no luck.  I know what the problem is.   Although I really didn’t want to have to admit it to him,  I try to call my husband.  I find out he has left his cell phone with my younger son while he is in a meeting.  I think for a minute and realize that I have a AAA membership, and opt for that.  The AAA person apologizes for my inconvenience and informs me that it might be an hour before they get to me.  She’s going to put me as “high priority.”  Hopefully that means I’ll only be sitting 20 minutes or so.     She also tells me that they’ll bring of “only enough gas to get to the nearest gas station.”  The nearest gas station is literally a half mile away.  I guess I’m getting 1/4 gallon of gas.

Rahling and Chenal is a crazy busy intersection in rush hour.  Everyone who lives further west of Little Rock comes this way.  There is also an upscale shopping center with half a dozen restaurants and a movie theater across the street, so traffic is high in two of the four directions (and, of course, I’m blocking one lane of one of those).     I’m text a friend of mine and admit my predicament.  I confess that I’m not sure I’m going to ever tell anyone else, and she suggests that this might be a good blog topic.  My biggest concern at the moment was that someone I know was going to pull up beside me.  Admittedly, it took me much of the next hour to see the humor in my situation and decide that I would, in fact, share.

People do interesting things when you interrupt their “flow.”  I had my hazard lights on, but very few people noticed that until they were stacked four or five cars deep.   Most people would honk at least a couple of times before they would realize I was incapacitated and then pull around and practically peel out trying to get through the light.  Those were all women, with the exception of one.  I found that interesting.  After I sat there about 10 minutes, a nice man finally approached my vehicle and asked if I was alright.  He was the only one that asked me for about 15 minutes, when another man pulled up on the other side and asked if I was alright.    From that I learned that chivalry isn’t dead and women are impatient.  Not exactly scientific, but it did sort of make me want to hang out a bit and see if the pattern held true.

I had two women pull up behind me about 15 minutes apart and honk furiously.  Both these women were driving SUVs.   One of those ladies honked for nearly a minute before she realized I couldn’t go anywhere.  She was right behind me, so she should have seen my hazard lights flashing.  As each of these women would pull around where they could pass me, none of them would look at me (I wanted to at least make a “sorry” gesture and smile at them).  The men who passed me would at least look.   Knowing that women (no offense intended) are generally more nosy than men, I found that very interesting.

Next I have a little grandma pull up next to me and wait at the light.  She has two empty car seats in the back of her little car, and the minute she hits the light, she starts furiously texting on her phone.    She checks the stoplight every few seconds, finishes her text and then does her “bifocal glance” (you know, where she holds the phone down and away and looks at it sideways) before deciding it’s acceptable and hitting send.  The light changes.  She throws her phone into the seat and roars away.

I’m musing to my friend what all these observations mean.  People ignoring or not seeing my hazards–is that a parallel for people missing warning signs in their lives?  Maybe we’re all too busy to see the things that are right in front of us?  I decide I need therapy and apologize to my friend that I’ve chosen HER cell number to share all these goings on.  She, however is amused.  I don’t know if she’s more amused at my individual predicament, or the fact that I have turned this into a huge social experiment and could now potentially write a thesis.

I had been sitting there a little over 30 minutes, when I finally saw the AAA rescue driver coming down the street.  I sit up straight in the seat and get excited that I’m about to be rescued.   As the driver approaches the intersection where I’m sitting, he flies through the light, looking every direction but the direction where I sit stranded.  As I watch him sail right by the front of my car, my heart sinks a bit.    Hopefully he’ll turn around pretty quickly and not give up on me.   A couple of minutes later, he’s coming through the intersection heading the other direction and nearly passes me again, but finally looks my direction.  He’s glancing at his cell phone (hopefully using his GPS), realizes he’s about to pass me, and brakes quickly to get into the lane to turn my direction.  As he sits at his light now, waiting for an opportunity to turn,  I watch him pour a tube of peanuts into his mouth.  I chuckle at the sight of him and all his activity, and I text my friend that I’m about to be rescued by a cell-phone toting, peanut eating rescue man.   She suggests that maybe he was the person Grandma was furiously texting earlier and we both laugh.

As the AAA rescue person is pouring gas into the tank, I look to my left and see a former coworker waiting at the light.  She lowers her window and asks what happened that I broke down.  I tell her I’m too ashamed to admit it and, of course, she can see the guy putting gas in the tank and laughs a little when she realizes what I’ve done.  She asks if I’m okay, asks about the family and then proceeds through the light.  Wow. That could have been a lot worse.

The AAA person finishes, has me sign, and then is kind enough to follow me to the “nearest gas station” which was Kroger gas, just about half a mile away.  After I fill the tank with gas I slide back in the driver’s seat and see my gauge–sitting below “E” and my fuel light is still on.    I try to reason with myself that while I ran too close, the tank was probably malfunctioning anyway.  Yeah, I don’t buy it either, but it made me feel better.  🙂

When my husband and I were watching TV last night after his meeting, I finally confessed “I have something to tell you, but you can’t make fun of me, and you can’t be mad.”  I can only imagine what went through his mind.  He listened to my story, and how I tried to let him be my knight in shining armor but in the end called AAA.  He was grateful we have the membership, and that we upgraded it a couple of years ago so now it covers everything.  And then he read the texts between my friend and me as I waited on my rescue.  He read about all the goings on in the cars next to me and behind me and our conclusions about what must be going on in those people’s lives.  He had a good laugh.  I hope you have too.

My vehicle will go back to Firestone while we’re gone to have the fuel pump evaluated once again.  We leave for New Orleans in the morning.  The other vehicle (the one we’re taking) has a functional gas gauge, for the moment anyway.  No doubt I will have some other story with which to amuse you.  Seems like the funniest stuff happens to me when I travel, especially on vacation–mini or otherwise.


2 responses to “Own it

  1. Your story was an absolute delight to read. I am a retired truck driver and can give you a couple more chuckles for your story.

    First, I picked up on your “impatient women in SUVs” right away. With hundreds of thousands of miles behind me in a truck I have come to expect specific behavior from drivers, based on the vehicle that they drive.

    Truck drivers don’t get a break from drivers of luxury cars. They are going to go first and that is that.

    If I need to change lanes and I see a pickup truck in my mirror then that is the time to turn on my signal. Chances are good that the driver in the pickup truck will, not only yield, but blink headlights to signal that it’s okay to come over.

    Women driving SUVs are the most impatient and aggressive drivers on the road. A women in a SUV with a soccer ball on the back window and a load of kids will not fear a fuel transport truck when she trying to merge onto a freeway. She is going to merge whether the truck slows to her in or not. I’m not sure if they’re fearless or stupid or both.

    On one occasion, a woman in an SUV made a left turn in front of me with an adolescent child in the front seat. I had just made my fuel delivery. Had I been loaded, I would not have been able stop. That child’s face haunted me for some time.

    Of course, like you, I don’t have empirical data to support my claims but they’re real enough for me.

    The second thing is that, if you don’t repeatedly run your fuel close to empty, your fuel pump will last longer. They draw air when the fuel sloshes and you’re running on low fuel Fuel pumps are made to pump fuel rather than air. The air wears them out faster.

    • keenchick says:

      Thanks for your feedback. Actually, I don’t make a habit of running on/near empty, although it does happen occasionally. I have 179,000 miles on my vehicle, and apparently Firestone has now put two less than fantastic fuel pumps in it, as they have acknowledged that this one likely also needs to be replaced (which will be great, until the next one makes it past the warranty period). After the first one went out, I typically refuel at half a tank whenever possible.
      It was funny to me to discover that about women driving SUVs. I guess I should have realized it, but being one myself I was a little biased in my opinion. As the daughter of a retired truck driver, I was long ago taught not to tailgate, and to respect the truckers and other drivers on the road. I also normally check on people in distress (especially when they’re women). Yesterday was certainly an interesting experiment.

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