Sunday, October 26, 2008

Running on Empty

I have this bargain-hunting problem. When I know things will be expensive, I'm apt to just suck it up and buy them. But if I think I can get a deal, I try to gather all the information possible, sometimes to my own detriment.

On the way home from work Thursday, I noticed I was pretty low on gas. The station near my house had gas for what now appears to be a bargain-basement price of $2.82/gallon, but I could barely walk that evening because of sciatic nerve pain and decided I'd stop on the way to work Friday morning.

Friday morning rolled around and I found myself running late. No time to fill up, but I'd take care of it when I left work to go to a 2pm meeting. Unfortunately, 1:30 rolled around and I hadn't left enough time for the gas stop. The reserve tank light wasn't on yet, except for a quick flash that morning that I didn't think counted. I'd be fine. It came on soon into my drive to the meeting. Afterward, I headed out of my meeting and hopped in the car for the drive home. I came upon a gas station, but they were charging $2.89/gallon, and I figured I'd get it cheaper near my house.

I merged onto the Beltway into sluggish traffic, my reserve light still bright, and started wondering how much gas was in the reserve tank. I vaguely remembered the car salesman saying the reserve tank had 2.2 gallons in it. Or was that 1.2 gallons? If it was 1.2 I was liable to to run out of gas on the Beltway. I merged back toward the right lane, just in case.

When I made it to my exit, I was relieved. And yet I continued to make bad decisions, driving by the first gas station because it was on the wrong side of the road, and then rejecting the next (2 miles later) -- I saw the $2.99/gallon price and foolishly decided I'd take my chances.

I regretted my decision almost immediately -- what the hell was the matter with me? I don't usually choose to do things the hard way. Walking to a gas station would be a serious problem, because I was limping due to the nerve pain. I drove slowly, in the right lane, and tried to coast down hills. As if that would help. Meanwhile, at stoplights, I tried to look in my car owner's manual for the reserve tank capacity. The information I sought was not provided. It didn't matter anyway -- either I was already screwed and it was too late, or I was going to be fine.

I made it about 2 more miles to the last gas station I'd pass before home. With no choice, I pulled in, running on fumes. After I filled up the tank, I found I'd had less than a half gallon left -- enough gas to get home, but only *maybe* enough gas to then get back to the gas station the next morning. What really chapped my @ss, though, was the price I ended up having to pay: $2.99/gallon.



dcpeg said...

Procrastination always comes with a cost. Nevertheless, I'm glad you didn't run out on the Beltway! Sorry about the sciatica -- that REALLY hurts!

sara said...

I'm glad you didn't run out of gas :-) Sorry about the sciata pain - ouch, that sounds icky. My husband is famous for running out of gas :-)