Just cruisin along
“How we doin’ on gas?”
My husband looked over at me as we cruised down U.S. Highway 87 South on the final leg of a three-week vacation in Colorado.
It was our last day and we had plunged from 40 degree mornings in Colorado into a day that had already hit 95 degrees at 11:30 a.m. The mental pull of obligations at home had already begun to sink in and my husband had been receiving a round of calls now that we were back in cell phone range.
We had chatted about those calls and an assortment of other topics all the way from Lubbock and Big Spring, through Sterling City. Now we were closing in on San Angelo and talking about changing drivers and maybe getting some lunch.
So, when his innocent question came, I looked over, squinting at the dash against the glare of morning sun and calmly said, “Well, we’re on empty.”
Usually, a little bell begins to ring when the gas gauge is at about a 45-mile reach. Usually, the display comes up that offers a friendly reminder. Usually, the driver (that would be me) checks the gauge as we are going merrily on our way.
But, it turns out, this was not a usual day.
I checked the fuel level and there was no reassuring number displayed. It just said “low”. About that time, our trusty black Yukon began to shut down … quickly … and we rolled to a stop onto the shoulder of the highway.
“I guess it was serious when it said ‘low’,” I said, smiling weakly at my husband.
The good thing about being in your 60s and retired is that little blips on the radar screen don’t bother you as much as they did when you were in your 30s with two small children in the car and pressing obligations awaiting your arrival at home.
So we calmly lowered the windows to let the blast furnace-like temperatures invade the car’s interior and considered our surroundings.
Tom Green County. In Texas. In August. There wasn’t much to see. Yellow-brown vegetation, sparse mesquite trees and (hopeful sign) a house about 100 yards away with a car parked in the driveway.
My husband walked over but, after repeated knocking, could raise no one. By the time he had walked back to the car, I had Googled our location — about six miles from Carlsbad and 16 miles from Grape Creek, just outside San Angelo — pretty much God-forsaken country.
So, Plan B, I pushed the OnStar button. Immediately a reassuring voice came on the line, assessed our situation and politely put us on ‘hold’ while she tried to secure a rescuer who would bring gas.
Time passed and we waited while peaceful little melodies came through the phone line. Periodically, the voice returned to tell us that she was still looking for a service to assist us.
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