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Driving on "E"- Part 1

In our marriage, not only is my casa his casa but mi coche is his coche. We have swapped cars for years and we have so many it's kinda fun to wake up in the morning and decide which car to drive that day. We like to drive old clunkers and spend less than ten grand, preferably two or three thousand max. It also works out nicely when one doesn't start in the morning (happens more often than I'd like) and we just take our bags and bodies out and hop into the next closest vehicle. Our junkyard and sharing system has generally worked well for both of us.

I do have an unwritten policy on car sharing that Andy never honors. When one drives a car, especially when the gas tank is near 1/4 tank at the end of the drive, it is that driver's responsibility to do a courtesy fill. It is that driver's responsibility to re-fill the tank so the next driver doesn't have to immediately fill the car before travel. Since we have so very many cars and we drive all over the place all of the time, it seems like I am filling a gas tank two to three times a week. Andy drives the farthest and often returns home later in the evening and I usually wake early and drive first thing in the morning, say to the local gym. The local gym is about five miles from our house. Five miles. You should be able to drive on "E" five miles right? So you might think. Unless you didn't know that the car had been driven about 30-50 miles on "E" before you ever got behind the wheel.

I have run out of gas twice at the local gym because of the aforementioned situation. Andy had driven the car from some distant place the evening prior and I stupidly have gotten into the car the following day, driven to the gym and the car has died in the parking lot. Both times he has told me it must be an issue with the car, not lack of gas. Both times it has been that the poor tank was bone dry. Needless to say, I'm a bit sensitive about running out of gas and being the house's gasmaster.

Remember in the old days when guys used to check the whole car out before a big road trip? You know, add wiper fluid (oh yeah, I have run out of that in a car Andy had been driving, too), check the oil, vacuum and wash, and um, fill up the gas tank. Not my man. And apparently not me either. We just took a very brief road trip to reunite with some of my college friends whom I've not seen in years and to meet their squeezably adorable offspring. We had been driving about an hour and a half when the kids woke up from naps, started screaming and we entered what I like to call "the dead zone." This is roughly 30 miles of road between the New York State Thruway and the Mass Pike that has no rest stops or exits. All you see is a bunch of road, rock and trees. At the very moment the first child's mouth opened in protest, Andy murmurs, "Oh, ahh, hmmmm? I guess the tank is on "E". Then he turns off the A/C and slows down to about 50 miles per hour. As we mosey along, sweating, I start to panic. We have planned just about 3 hours of time with our friends before we more or less have to turn around and come back home. Three hours to catch up on years of information, to squeeze squeezable babies and for my kids to act like cute little dolls before they get tired and hungry and turn into trolls.

The particular car we are driving on this trip is very fuel efficient and in the back of my head I feel we have about 50 miles before we end up on the side of the road. We agree that purchasing the AAA Gold membership, 100 mile tow was a good idea and at least know the car dying won't cost us any money.

In my panic, I start to ramble:
"I'm going to kill you if we run out of gas and we are stuck on the side of the road and it is so hot the kids are going to die and where would you even pull over you know you can't run A/C without gas and we might as well turn around and go home if we run out of gas and I'll never get to see my friends or their babies and I'll hate you forever remember the time you made me run out of gas, no it wasn't me it was you yes it as it was you. "

I repeated a version of this ramble several times and each time Andy slowed down a bit more and Caroline yelled a little louder about how hot it was in the car. After 25 miles or so we finally reached a gas station. We pulled up, got gas, went to the potty, got snacks and went along on our way as though it never happened.

When we got back in the car, the cool water we bought felt good going down my throat and I closed my eyes and let myself relax for a minute, thinking all about how wonderful it would be to see my friends and to get photos of our kids together. I sipped, swallowed and with my eyes closed, said into the air, "If we had run out of gas, it would have totally been your fault."


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