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How does a person run out of gas?

February 4, 2011 - Michael Palmer
How does a person run out of gas?

Thirty years ago we had to be aware of our gauges in a car, there were so many all across the dash and they were very confusing to some, so when a person ran out of gas there was at least an excuse.

The modern automobile has warning lights, buzzers and bells that ding and some just spell it out for you, “LOW FUEL.” Still my wife has the optimistic outlook that cars can and do run on fumes.

I relay to her the sound advice that during the winter months that a fuel tank can freeze up if left below a quarter of a tank. I tell her that running dry can damage a fuel system. She hears a trumpet solo like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon, Wha, wha wha.”

To her credit, she is expert at reaching home with no fuel left for a return trip to a gas station but very rarely is left stranded. I recall one occasion when I went to leave for work on a warm summer morning and started the car only to have it stall before I could put the lever from park into drive. You guessed it, out of gas!

This morning it happened again. She went out to her car and as she began backing up, it stalled. “I think I just ran out of gas.”

“I don’t understand, I put $5 in it the day before yesterday?” Equation: Gas is $3.19 per gallon - $5 equals 1.56 gallons. Unless you are driving a Prius that is about 40 miles with no warming up your car on a winters morning.

She actually had me take the car in for repairs after it was so low on gas that the car spelled out, “LOW ENGINE POWER.” Translation in Detroit lingo, you are nearly out of gas.

My son in law has ran out of gas like 100 times in the past three years. His problem is that he is broke but determined to travel regardless of the fact that he has no gasoline to make the engine run. Of course he has a cell phone, so, “NO PROBLEMO.” Someone will come to the rescue.

I was raised to be more prepared. I see a storm warning and I check to make sure I have adequate water drawn to use in a power outage. I make sure we have food to sustain us for at least a few days. I check flash lights and look for extra batteries. I get the snow shovel and a bag of salt ready.

I am the same way when taking photos. I have an extra memory card, extra camera battery and extra batteries for the flash. Anything short of a complete camera failure and I have a plan B.

I am not saying I am perfect. I have a memory like a nutty professor most of the time, my Mom used to say, “You are lucky your head is attached or you would forget it.”

I use a date book and my computer, but still things slip through the cracks.

I was supposed to take bowling team photos and got a call from the office to take another photo in a different location and then we had 60 plus photos that needed scanned before the basketball game that evening. Just like that, bowling was history. Grocery lists are also maddening to me, if I make one to use I will no doubt leave home without it.

I myself have cut it close on several occasions over the years due to lack of funding. I guess my ability to calculate the maximum mileage I can squeeze out of a set amount of fuel is rival to a NASCAR pit boss, because the only occasion I can recall where I ran out of gas was due to a malfunctioning gas gauge.

Oh well, I guess I need to go and get some gas so I can start her car and then take it to her at work or use it myself to get to tonight’s game. Maybe I will give her gas gauge a real work out and actually FILL the tank.

 
 

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