Friday, March 12, 2010
Running on Empty
Well, I just can’t resist the urge any longer. It’s just too great an adventure not to share even though I said something like, “what happens in Mike’s car stays in Mike’s car”. So, forgive me, my brother.
You will recall I rode with my brother when he went for his doctor’s appointment in Columbus Tuesday. Our return trip had an added dimension which I have never in my life experienced before.
Unlike many in our family, my brother is not a type A personality. He takes life in a much more relaxed fashion. He’s not one to make long range plans; he doesn’t try to anticipate the next sharp curve on the road we call “life”; he lives in the moment enjoying each gift that comes his way. It’s enviable, actually. He avoids all the stress and anxiety associated with trying to manipulate the future.
On our return trip from Columbus, we were chatting away as we motored down Georgia 96. It was a good four-lane highway with very little traffic, so we could enjoy our conversation without paying too much attention to the demands of driving. I’m not sure why 96 is such a fine highway. It is out in the middle of nothing. For nearly a hundred miles there are corn fields, cotton fields, pecan and peach orchards. That’s all. There is hardly a house out there and only a couple tiny communities.
We were rolling along enjoying the beautiful day when all of a sudden Mike says something like, “Oh, my gosh”. I won’t say what went through my mind when he pointed to the gas gauge and I saw the needle below the empty mark. There was nothing but empty fields for miles around. He tried to remember how far we were from the next small village. We started watching the mile post signs. Every mile that went by was a mile we wouldn’t have to walk. I was thinking a lot about walking. I think that was the first day this year I hadn’t worn my tennis shoes. I was suitably attired for a doctor’s office in dress slacks and black shoes. Mike was recovering from back surgery and could hardly walk to the mailbox. A 10-mile walk seemed impossible.
Then I began thinking about what we might put a gallon of gasoline in to carry it back to the car. We had a couple pint water bottles and two paper cups from our lunch.
It’s amazing what your mind can find to think about and how much thinking can go on between one mile post to the next. I was looking out the window at the vast emptiness of rural Georgia. Then it occurred to me that this is farmland and farmland requires tractors and tractors need fuel and often farmers have small gas tanks at their barns. Now there was a thought. The only problem was I didn’t see any farm houses, barns or tractors in the vast emptiness.
Then the car gave that dreaded stutter. By some miracle, we were approaching some sort of small business with lots of trucks gathered in a small parking lot. We agreed to pull into this business. At least there were enough people around that some good soul might give us a ride to the next gas station. Just as Mike pulled off the highway, the car died. We coasted on for a few feet down the dirt driveway. Mike tried to start the car again and, with another little miracle, the engine turned over. I suggested he pull to the side of the driveway so whoever gave us a ride could get out. He didn’t want to do that. He had seen it before me--a small drum with a gas pump sticking out one end. He pulled the car right up to the pump as though he were at any gas station in America.
He went in to talk to the proprietor about purchasing a gallon of gas. He came out after a couple minutes followed by a lady in a pink shirt. She consulted with another lady who pumped a gallon of gas into his car. He tried to pay, but pink shirt wouldn’t allow it. “Put your money back in your pocket”. By this time, I could almost see the hand of God taking care of us. That gallon of gas got us five more miles down the road to the next gas station.
Thank you, Lord, for seeing us home safely. And thank you, Mike, for another great adventure.