When, exactly, does "E" mean empty? Not depleting, not running out, but empty, as in all gone, as in not a drop left? If you are a Seinfeld lover then you may remember the episode in which they dared ask this very question. I'm no Kramer and I've always been content with refueling several bars before the "E". The only things that ever stop me from premature fill ups are laziness, procrastination, cheapness, and a lack of gas stations for miles on end while taking a very long road trip with all four kids and no husband.
We were driving through Montana at this point (normally I drive through Oregon so I was a bit unfamiliar with the territory). I notice that the gas is less than half full so I think, "Better keep my eye out for a station." I see one about 10 minutes later but tell myself, "Oh, that is in a little po-dunk way side. They always charge too much. There should be another stop in the next 45 minutes or so and I have plenty of gas too see me that far." Well, don't count your gallons before they are burned. We drove on past that little po-dunk station and then didn't see another for longer than I care to remember. Our car has one of those little over head displays that show the direction you are traveling, the current miles per gallon, the average miles per gallon, and the estimated miles you have left from what ever is still in your tank. Well, the further we drove, and the longer we went without seeing a station in sight, I began to worry. I turned on that "miles left" display just before the gauge hit that big ol' "E". It said we had 27 miles left on our tank.
"Kids... Hey you guys?... HEY! Listen to mommy for just a minute. Ok guys, we are running really low on gas and we need to try and make it to a gas station. I need you all to be quiet while mommy worries. It would also really help if we all say a silent prayer to Heavenly Father to ask Him to help us get to a gas station and to be safe." Worry is a great thing for getting kids to be quiet.
We finally get to an off ramp that has the name of a town, or something, next to it. I could take it and hope that it leads into a town with a gas station, but I don't see any lights and I only have 17 miles left, according to the lit display. A sign says that there is another off ramp in 10 miles. 17 is just an estimate, it could be high or low. I feel strongly to just keep going and keep praying. Pablo is the family worrier and he is watching the mileage countdown and keeping me alerted, unnecessarily I might add.
"MOM, it says we only have 10 miles left."
"I know, Pablo, but the exit is only 4 miles away, I think we will make it."
"Now it's only 7. Everyone, look, it says only 7. Oh, oh, its only 6 now!"
"Look, look, you guys a gas station just up ahead. See the lights?"
"It's going to be ok, Pablo, we are exiting right now."
"ONLY 3! Now it's 2! Oh mom I'm so worried"
"Calm down, sweety, we are hear."
I kid you not, folks, we drove in and stopped at the pump with a readout of 1 mile left in our tank. It took over $55 to fill it back up. We were all happy, safe, and very grateful that we didn't get stranded on the side of the road. And now Pablo makes sure to point out every gas station we pass and if we are on the road for more than an hour he asks if we need to get more gas. And so , I will pay for my little mistake for the next several months, I'm sure.
Lesson: Overpriced po-dunk gas is better than nothing.