?DING DING DING!?
My car, Max, does not have this feature. Actually, half of the warning lights on the dash don?t even work.
Max is a 1994 Camaro that has, for the past three years of my life, ensured that just when I think I?ve saved up a significant amount of money, something mechanical goes wrong.
Last week, for example, I noticed a white wisp of smoke curling out from right above my radio. It was as if someone had set a lit cigarette right behind my stereo inset.
Most people would find this fairly alarming. But, I reasoned, Max was just throwing a temper tantrum because I hadn?t spent $200 on him recently.
So I drove the rest of the way home with my own, miniature fog machine. (Had it been nighttime, I would have gotten out my little LCD auto flashlight and had myself a mini light show.)
One of the few warning lights on my dash that does actually work is the ?Low Traction? light, which illuminates the fact that I am sliding on the ice across the parking lot with no possibilities of regaining control until I have either slid to a stop or smashed into another car.
But I have no ?Low Gas? light. And apparently I also do not have the necessary IQ points (two) to figure out that a needle on ?E? means ?Empty.?
I realized that I had waited too long Sunday night when Max began dry heaving.
I don?t know why I always wait so long to refill my tank. If my memory serves me correctly, I had run out of gas mid-trip two times prior to this incident. Both of these times were en route to a gas station.
I like to think it?s a subconscious attempt to get even with Max for all of the expenses he?s caused me. However, I was taught to turn the other cheek, or fender in this case. So, apparently it?s just basic stupidity.
I was pulling into the driveway of my house to pack to go back to college (a five-block trip) after Thanksgiving break. I had barely gotten into the driveway when Max began revving, then almost dying, then revving, then almost dying etc.
I figured Max was just acting up again because the smoke incident merely turned out to be a faulty air condition knob. That was a cheap repair so, I assumed, Max was just getting even.
Stubbornly, I put Max in reverse, backed out of the driveway, and drove to the nearest gas station with Max heaving all the way.
I was maybe 30 feet away from the gas station entrance when the gas tank went completely empty.
I coasted into the lot and managed to inch up next to a pump right when I lost momentum. A crisis averted, I thought.
In my adrenaline rush to get to a pump, I failed to take into consideration what side of the car Max?s gas tank is actually located.
This is the part of the story where I seriously began to doubt my qualifications to be a card-carrying driver.
I began to consider my options. I could abandon the car and walk home and then to my dorm and never go back for the car. I could set the car on fire. I could set myself on fire. Or?and this was the least desirable?I could surrender all pride and call my parents for help.
I opted for the latter and eventually got Max filled up again.
I really should have just set him on fire. I would have gotten the final laugh. But I did the right thing, and turned the other fender.
* * *
UFO: The Curved Dash Oldsmobile, which debuted in 1901, was sold for $650. Olds?mobile manufactured 425 of them that year.