Monday, January 2, 2017

Gas Gauge Roulette



It's little secret that I have hardly lived my life as a daredevil. My name will never rank in the annals of human endeavor alongside names like Knievel, Wallenda, or Maury Plotkin, which is a name I just made up for the sole purpose of comedically undercutting the other two.

There is one area of life's experience, however, in which I have given vent to my wild side, or at least to whatever side I actually have that occasionally gets off its side.

Call it Gas Gauge Roulette. Perhaps you've played it yourself.

I clamber into my car in the morning, cursing the fact that it's the morning and that my car is a 2007 Camry instead of a 2017 Lexus and also that it's the morning.  As I settle uneasily behind the wheel, I recall two specific facts I had somehow forgotten:
  • I am practically out of gas, the warning light having flashed for a good  5 or 6 miles before I got home last night, and
  • I am a lazy and shiftless bum who doesn't feel like pumping gas and (optional) it's really cold outside.
 Game On!

Will I strive to make it safely to work or other destination without stopping to fill up for gas?  Or will I act prudently, fill up the tank, and drive to my destination confident and secure that I will arrive in style and in one piece?

The former, of course.  After all, this is Gas Gauge Roulette!

I’ve now gone a mile. The warning light is back on, and likely there’s less gas in the tank than water on the surface of the moon.  I pass the first of several gas stations en route.   Should I stop?

Nah. I am Wallenda, I am Knievel, I am Maury Plotkin, which is a name I just made up for the sole purpose of comedically undercutting the other two.  

Was that a sputter? Did the car make a choking sound? Hopefully that was me sputtering and choking instead of the car. The light on the dashboard is now glowing like the Bat Signal on a night the Joker is carting off Gotham City. 

I ignore it.

What's that?  The gas gauge itself is now actually speaking to me:

"Perry, you moron, you're riding on fumes!  For god's sake, stop and get gas!" 

Nope.

There is indeed one last gas station ahead before my final destination.  There it is - one last possible reprieve from the ignominy and humiliation of running out of gas less than half a mile from work.

I motor on past.

The car is now shrieking at me in the same tonality and cadence as if it were Meryl Streep in the movie Florence Foster Jenkins.  There's the parking lot up ahead at last, and yes, I've made it!

I’ve won! 

I’ve won America’s stupidest and most pointless game.

Why do I play Gas Gauge Roulette?  It seems to me the game
represents the ultimate point at which lazy crosses indomitable.  Maybe sometimes the only difference between being a hero and not being one is how much you are willing to risk to preserve your lassitude.

Well, comes the end of the day and I return to my vehicle. As I clamber into the car and settle uneasily behind the wheel, I recall two specific facts I had somehow forgotten:
  • I am practically out of gas, the warning light having flashed frantically for a good 5 or 6 miles before I got to work this morning, and
  • I am a lazy and shiftless bum who doesn't feel like pumping gas and (optional) it's really cold outside. 
Game On!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2 comments:

  1. Who says you aren't as daring as Maury Plotkin? We all knew you were a lazy, shiftless bum, but you earned some much needed brownie points (remember Green Stamps?) with this. I can just see you trudging down a snowy highway to purchase a thimble full of gas.

    Connie likes to play this game too. Only in her version, you leave the car on fumes for the next driver--me. I'm sure there have been several morning when she's chuckled after watching me walk out the door knowing that the gas light's been on for three days.

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    1. I think a lot of people play this game against their better judgment. We are all that lazy. Good luck to Connie, I'll meet her (and you) out of the road with a thimble full of gas.

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