Okay, it was only March 31 but close enough. I was certainly fool enough.
I was on an errand of mercy. My granddaughter was at her mother’s home in Austin but mom was sick and needed to stay home and get well. Hard to do while chasing a 3-year old around. I get the call. I get in the car. I’m thinking, I need to get gas but when I get in the car, I see I have more than enough gas to make it to mom’s place. I thought I remembered that the low-fuel warning had already come on and that I had reset the odometer because I know when that happens, I’m good for at least 50 miles. Had the car for over nine years. Never ran out of gas because I’m no fool . . . or so I thought.
When I looked at the odometer, it said 31 miles. Hmmm. Gas gauge says low-fuel warning is not imminent. I must have gotten some gas and forgot to reset the odometer. Yeah. That’s what happened. Just go get the kid and worry about the gas later.
As soon as I reach FM 973, the low-fuel warning goes off. That’s strange. It looked like I had more than that. No matter . . . got another 50 miles. Reset the odometer and keep rolling! The Universe begins to softly chuckle but I remain oblivious to reality.
I get through the interminable construction on US 290, take the ramp onto US 183 and just when I got up to speed, uh-oh. Power loss. It’s happened before. Some kind of computer glitch. Hmm, the battery light is on. Maybe something is wrong with the charging system. Put it in neutral and coast. Maybe you can make it over that hill and find a place to safely pull off the highway.
Wait. The battery light is on because the engine died. Put the pieces together. D’oh! You were right the first time. You were supposed to get gas before you left town. The fuel gage was just giving you a temporary false reading. That’s why what looked like an extra gallon disappeared in 5 miles.
I crest the hill and Yay! a gas station right at the bottom of the hill! What luck! Umm . . . say . . . there’s no exit and the highway is raised. No choice. I pull over, get out, and look over the wall. Short drop. I can do it. Not sure how I’ll get back up but one problem at a time.
I walk to the Walnut Market at 1900 East Anderson Lane. I explain my dilemma and ask if they have a gas can I can borrow. That’s when I met Angel Number One. A young woman who appeared to have some authority gave me a new gas can from the shelf just to borrow. She could have insisted that I buy it. She didn’t even ask for a deposit.
I get the gas and walk back to where I left the car. Now, from ground level, that wall looks like it might as well be Mount Everest. I can see I won’t be scaling it. No foot or hand-holds. If I had been 30 years younger and 30 pounds lighter, I could have jumped up high enough to set the gas can on the top of the wall and then jump again to put my arms over the wall and scrabble to the top. I look forlornly at the distant summit and realize that if I try that, I will bang my knees, scrape my arms badly, and then just hang there like a slab of meat as I face the reality that I just don’t have the strength to haul my middle-aged, not-exactly-svelt body over the top.
What to do. Walking to the next ramp would take forever. I can ask for a ride but it seems to crazy. My car is right there! Am I going to let a few extra feet cause me to have to travel for miles just to get onto the freeway? Think, man, think! Look around. An office building. Yeah! I just need a box or a step-ladder! Say, lookie there. Some kind of service truck with ladders on top. Angel Number Two. He is just turning on to the access road. I frantically wave at him. He sees me and waves back with a curious look on his face. I point at him and mentally beg him to stop. Miraculously, he hesitates, slows, and finally stops up the street a bit. I walk up to the truck and thank him for stopping. I explain my situation and ask him if he could just set his ladder there for me to climb up and over the wall.
No problem. He hops out, undoes one of the ladders and before I know it I am shaking his hand, thanking him, and — anxious to be on my way — I go up and over, give him a parting blessing and head to the car. I only later realized that I should have taken the time to double check the company name and maybe get the truck number. It was some kind of natural pest control company and this rang a bell when I looked it up: Nature’s Own Pest Control.
After that, I re-discovered that there is a dearth of gas stations for the next few miles on Anderson Lane. I finally get enough gas to feel secure, send a voice-activated text message to mom, inadvertently blaming my delay on the international sanctions against a Middle-Eastern country: “Iran out of gas.” Oh that auto-correct . . . always joking around. I might as well have said the dog ate my homework. She is a teacher, after all.
It took a while but after I got my granddaughter, I took the can back and figured that I should at least buy some nutritious snacks. The same woman was still there. I thanked her. She said, “I hope the rest of your day is better.”
It already was.