It wouldn’t be a road trip if “Jane” and I didn’t have some kind of ordeal. We’ve been lost. We’ve nearly ran down a serial killer (he had to have been!), and we just got back from our last trip. It went a like this:
Oh, side note real quick, if you haven’t visited my Writer Page on facebook, would you mind stopping by and “liking” me? (Shameless plug at self-promotion. I apologize, but still…will you?)
Jane and I took our last summer road trip, well our first road trip this summer. We spent the weekend at my mom’s, visiting my great niece–she loves me most, and buying dented cans and cheap hair care products at a Mennonite store.
On Sunday, I gassed up–the van, not me–and we loaded up. We stopped halfway, went to the bathroom and grabbed some lunch, then hit the road.
The Script blared from the speakers and Jane and I talked. As she lulled on about finding a teaching position this fall, I drifted off to sleep. I don’t know how long I’d been snoozing when I felt a soft hand tap my arm.
“Jess,” she said in her soprano drawl, “I know you’re resting, but…your gas light is on.”
I popped my eyes open beneath my mirrored Aviators and looked around. Bean field. “Where are we?”
“I don’t know,” she sing-songed.
“What do you mean…you don’t know?” I watched as irrigation lines watered the fields. No indication of where I was. “We have to be in Arkansas. Somewhere.” I looked at the ticking, orange line set right on the “E.”
My stomach knotted. I never let my tank get this low. “Jane, how long has that light been on?”
She tapped the steering wheel, obviously not concerned. “Oh, a bit.”
“A bit. A bit? Jane, there’s nothing for miles. Miles!” I sat up straight in my seat, glanced at the temperature sign thingy. 99 degrees. Lord, we can’t run out of gas in this heat. It’s too hot to walk. It’s too hot to stay in this van!
Jane looked at me. “I saw a sign for Tyronza back a ways.”
“We’re screwed.” I began plotting how we would make this thing work when, not if, we ended up stranded. I’d sprint across the field, no Jane would, to one of the farm houses off in the distance, and ask for a can of gasoline. They run farms. They have to have their own gas tanks. Right? I’d stay in the van with a weapon.
A semi blew past us. Jane followed. “Maybe he can pull us in his draft.”
This is the one time, I didn’t poke fun of Jane and her knowledge of NASCAR. “Yeah, do that.” I picked up my cell to call hubby. Maybe he knew of a town coming up soon. We were only an hour from home.
She gripped the wheel and I watched her mouth move. I saw Hannah from the Bible in that moment. No wonder Eli thought she was drunk. I started acting drunk too. Pray. Pray. Pray.
God, get us to a gas station. Please, Lord. Keep us safe. We have pre-teeens! Girls. We can’t be out on the road alone with them!
The book I had just read popped into my head and I was pretty sure vomit was about to explode all over the van. There are so many evil things that can happen to stranded women. To women in general. Why did I read that stupid book!?
I glanced at Jane. “You picked a fine day to wear a flimsy tank top!”
“Don’t yell at me! I wanted to be comfortable.”
“Well, when some strange man walks up to the van, that’s the first thing he’s gonna see! What will it say?” I was frustrated, terrified.
“It’ll say, ‘it’s hot outside’.” She pursed her lips and kept behind the semi. I checked my phone again. Signal.
I called hubby. “Hey,” I said in a syrupy voice. “Just curious. Is there a gas station past the Tyronza exit?”
A pause. “Why?” he asked warily.
No getting around it. “Well, I sorta didn’t get gas at Marston, but I filled it almost up back at my mom’s and you said if I filled up I could make it.” That’s right, blame him!
“I did say that. But almost filled up, gets you almost home.”
My heart sank.
“Why didn’t you get gas halfway?” I heard the slight irritation in his voice. Maybe panic. I don’t know. Line were blurring.
“I…forgot?” Well, I never drive. And why didn’t Jane look? She was driving. This wasn’t my fault!
“Who forgets to get gas?” he bellowed.
“I guess me!” I said, fired up. No valid reason for it. “What am I going to do if we run out?”
“I guess sit stranded and I’ll have to come find you!”
Jane sniffed and whispered. “Is he mad?”
I pulled off my mirrored sunglasses and gave her the what-do-you-think? look. I hung up. We went back to praying.
My daughter perked up in the very back. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing!” we both shouted together. They didn’t need to freak out, too.
“How many miles have we been?”
Jane shook her head. “I don’t know.”
And then…up ahead…I see it.
A sign! A symbol of hope! No, not the superman sign or the bat signal.
“Jane! There’s a station up ahead.” We dared not shout in victory, though. We had another mile to go. We gulped and tensed.
We made it. I’ve never been so escstatic to spend almost $5 a gallon for gas. We spent the next hour laughing at ourselves, and talking through scenarios of what we’d do if we were threatened. It’s easy to talk big when you know you’re safe.
I texted hubby to let him know it was all good, wishing I’d have waited five more minutes to initially call him. Typical.
We pulled into my driveway as hubby stood at the edge of it with a sign that read, “GAS STATION NEXT EXIT.”
I guess he thinks he’s funny. He’s not. Okay, maybe he is a little.
Question: Have you ever ran out of gas? What did you do?