It’s A Gas, Gas, Gas.

My father used to drive me crazy, which, admittedly, isn’t a long distance trip, because he’d go for miles with the needle of the gas tank firmly pointed at “E”. When I was in high school he had some kind of large car that also had a yellow warning light that came on when the fuel was low. It often seemed like every time I got in the car that yellow warning light was on and I’d be in the back seat sweating over the thought of having to get out and walk. And yet he was a master of timing. The engine never even sputtered; drawing on fumes it always managed to get us to the store, or to school, or wherever, then home again without ever once stopping for gas. I suspect that whenever I wasn’t around he’d stop somewhere and put exactly one gallon of gas in the car and calculate the mileage in his head so he’d know exactly how far he could go.

I’ve never been able to master the skill myself, and yet I find all the time I get the warning light that the car is running low on gas. That’s because I get distracted by other, more important things, like whatever’s on the radio or, hey, look, there’s someone out walking their dog. And also I believe my father is responsible. If just once he had run out of gas while I was in the car, if we’d had to walk to a gas station or, worse, push the car somewhere, I might have something to make me more focused on the fuel level.

Although he did run out of gas once and ended up having to walk about a mile to the nearest station. Which he enjoyed telling me a few weeks after it happened since of course I wasn’t there.

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6 Comments

  1. Thomas Slatin ????️‍????

    During my tenure in the fire service, we adhered to strict protocols regarding fuel levels. Our standing orders mandated that fuel tanks be filled to capacity whenever they fell below half, as well as at the beginning or end of any shift during which the apparatus left the station. This practice has carried over into my personal life, where I ensure my vehicle is filled to full before any extended trip or whenever it drops to half a tank.

    One particular supervisor in New York City had an unwavering commitment to this policy. He would routinely remove the fuel cap and check the fuel level with a gloved finger. If he couldn’t physically touch the diesel fuel upon our return to the station, he would immediately instruct the engineer to refuel the apparatus until the fuel level was satisfactory. His meticulous approach was extreme, but it underscored the importance of maintaining operational readiness at all times.
    Thomas Slatin ????️‍???? recently posted…The Muses Companion – June 10, 2024My Profile

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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Being able to tough the fuel might seem extreme to some but for the fire service it makes perfect sense to me. I imagine fire trucks especially, being very heavy vehicles, go through a lot of fuel on even routine trips and it would be terrible if they ran out of fuel. So far I’ve been lucky that I’ve always been within close range of a gas station–avoiding the highways as I do has its advantages–but never letting the gas get below half a tank is a good policy.

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  2. mydangblog

    I have a digital read-out on my dashboard that tells me approximately how many kilometres I can drive before my tank is completely empty. Very helpful!

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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Our Honda CRV doesn’t have that and I don’t know why but the terrible Ford EcoSport did. I found it could be misleading, though–it would tell me I had 32 miles left before I’d need to refuel and then within less than a block it was down to 29.

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  3. Arionis

    Being in the full-time RV life, it is rare that we are on the road without that pesky light coming on and us trying to find a “RV friendly” place to get gas. Been a few close calls.
    Arionis recently posted…John Thomas The White!My Profile

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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wow, I can’t imagine running out of gas in an RV. It’s not like you can push it if you run out. I don’t know if a five-gallon can would even be enough to get you to the nearest station. I was with a friend when he ran out of gas on the interstate and had to pull over to the shoulder. He jogged to the nearest station–which fortunately wasn’t that far, and I stayed with his car. At least the traffic was light at 3am. And he got a ride back from a guy who was at the station. So you can depend on the kindness of strangers.

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