Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A True Story That Really Happened (mild cursing because I am that cool)

Sorry for my, er, inadvertent vacation from blogging, and for my abrupt and inexplicable return.



Last night, I was in Bennington, Vermont.

There are not a lot of places to buy gas between Bennington and West Brattleboro on Route 9 (about a 40-mile stretch). There are enough places that I should not have been in danger, but I am also an idiot, and that is relevant.

So I was extremely low on gas. And when I was about 5 miles from the next gas station (according to my gps) — my car stopped. I tried to start it again a few times, with no luck. Which was unfortunate and inconvenient, but, whatever, I thought. It wasn't too horribly late at night, and I have a number of friends who live, say, 6 or 7 miles from where I was stopped."I'll text people. One of them will be around, and they'll come bring me gas, and it'll be fine."

So I wrote said text.

And hit send.

And... no service. Not even enough to send a text. So, that's no good.

But, you know. I was on the downhill side of a mountain.

I decided maybe, if I put the car in neutral, I could roll forward enough to get a little cell service and then the text would send itself. It did not seem to me to be the smartest idea I'd ever had, but it did seem smarter than hitchhiking in the dark with no one knowing where I was.

So I put on the hazard lights and I tried it.

And I rolled (without power steering, because the car's not on, or power brakes, because ditto). And I rolled. And I rolled. I rolled, in fact, for about three miles and only stopped because someone was behind me and it made me nervous.

Sadly, the place I could pull over was flat enough that I couldn't just continue to roll in neutral from a stop.

By then, the text had actually sent. But also, by then, the last fumes of gas were willing to cooperate a little better and so I managed to start the car and drive the last little bit to the gas station across from the other gas station in West Brattleboro, at which I filled the tank and texted my friends back that I was OK.

From there, I drove home and got on Facebook and sent a very similar version of that story to the one above to the two friends I'd attempted to text.

They were, understandably, very impressed with, I think, mostly my storytelling but also my badassery.

I allowed as how, as it was happening, I kept alternating between thinking, "[Our friend who is also a mechanic and a daredevil, previously called Special Guest Star on this very blog] will think I'm such a badass!" and "There's probably some reason this is terrible for my car, and he's going to give me hell about it."

So, naturally, I checked.

In case you were wondering, he responded thus: "You are, indeed, a badass. ... not likely to be bad for your car. Rolling in neutral isn't the best for an automatic transmission, but that's normally a problem when you're towing a car long distances or something. Brakes and steering, as you noted, lose their assist, but if you press super hard on the pedal you can still stop pretty quickly. So I hope you were at the ready with both feet."

I was indeed.


Joe said...

Well done, CMC. I think you just created a new reality show (since there's one of those for everything these days). People Who Get Stranded Roadside in Rural Areas With Little To No Gas and Live To Tell About It.
It's not quite Naked and Afraid, but still. . .

Calvin Rey said...

The moral of this story? If you're planning to run out of gas, drive up a mountain first.