My newer car shows me how many miles worth of fuel that I have in my tank. I’m not sure if that’s highway miles or city miles. It warns me when there is only 35 miles of fuel in my tank. It’s a bit ridiculous, I think, since I could go several days without driving 35 miles. The dinging and flashing doesn’t stop until I fuel up. I spent the holiday with my little old mom in Illinois. When at home, I always drive her around in her 2007 Cadillac. That way, she can relax and be chauffeured around like Driving Miss Daisy. We’d been driving for about five days, apparently on fumes. I hadn’t paid attention that her old school fuel gauge was on empty until we ran out of gas on a four-lane interstate, at night, in the middle of nowhere, with no visible mile markers or street lights. Dozens of big rigs flying by, and not moving over when they passed our stranded vehicle.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Initially, we laughed about it and my mom reminded about the last time she ran out of gas, about 40 years ago when she was taking us to school. She thought she’d just be dropping us off, so she had on her pajamas, a bath robe and big fuzzy pink house slippers. In the dead of winter in Illinois, walking to the gas station with her gas can. When she got back to the car, those fuzzy slippers were packed in snow, making them look about 5 times their actual size, making it impossible to walk in. Again, this was the LAST time she ever let her fuel gauge get that low. But, again, I was driving and she was riding along. Neither of us paying attention to the empty gas gauge. So here, 40 years later, we found ourselves in a most dangerous predicament.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN
In hindsight, I wish I’d had a plan so we hadn’t sat there in danger for so long.The entire assistance process is so very different, state-to-state. In my state, there is a phone number on the back of your driver license for Roadside Assistance and Emergencies. Our tax dollars here pay to dispatch help if you find yourself stranded on any highway or tollway with a flat tire or if you run out of gas. But here, in another state, I wasn’t sure what to do. So we called the roadside assistance number on my mom’s insurance card. After about 40 nerve-racking minutes, they dispatched help from an hour away! What the heck? I searched service stations in the area, but most were closed or not calling back. So I went online to the Illinois Highway Patrol website. It said to call 9-1-1 for help. Here, if you called 9-1-1 because you ran out of gas, they’d let you have it for tying up emergency lines. But, I called the number, they sent a State Trooper who took us to a station, got us gas and we went on our way!
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE CAR IS STRANDED
Again, have a plan. Have your insurance card ready and easy to locate. Have your phone charged up, bring blankets if it’s cold. Pull as close off the shoulder as possible to leave more space between your car and those passing. But not too far off the shoulder that your 83 year old mom won’t open the door and fall into the ditch. And pay attention to your gas gauge. Unlike your insurance’s roadside assistance, it doesn’t lie.
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
STRANDED VEHICLE – Comedy Defensive Driving