Running On Fumes

Gas is over $3/gallon in Hawaii. It's only fair. Each day after work Hawaiians chill on the beach sipping New York Seltzer, or snorkel in a quiet reef observing as barracudas violently dismember cute, colorful, passive aquatic creatures. They pay more for gas, milk, and yarmulkes, but they get tropical breezes and an 8:1 vowel to consonant ratio. It's a trade-off.

I'm not old, but I'm old enough now to engage in "I-remember-when-gas-only-cost $X!" revelries. When I left on my mission gas was $1.12 in Portland. I didn't have what you would term a "steady income" in high school, so I'd bum a quarter off my mom before I left for school. I'd pull into the Iranian-run Texaco on my way to class, roll down my window, and politely ask for $.25 unleaded, please. At first they laughed and complied, but then it started happening all the time. Eventually when they'd see my orange and brown VW bus rolling into the station, they'd go inside and wouldn't come out.

The gas gauge in my bus didn't work, so I was never really sure how much fuel I had. I estimate I ran out of gas twenty or thirty times. A few were memorable.

Once my car sputtered and died on my way home from my early-morning paper route. I was wearing my oversized Bigfoot slippers with bounteous brown hair and claws. I was suffering from severe bedhead. Sweats and an outdated 7-Up t-shirt rounded out my wardrobe. The nearest gas station wasn't far, but it sat on the main thoroughfare leading to my high school. As I pushed my recognizable bus down the shoulder of the busy street, school was about to start and my peers rolled by, horns blaring, taunts and jeers flying callously from rolled-down windows. "Shave your feet!" was perhaps the most creative.

Another time I forgot to fill up on Saturday evening. After driving to and from church the next day, I knew I was running on fumes. I'd stalled at a stoplight on an incline when my paltry puddle of gas trickled to the rear of the tank. But my friends were counting on me to drive them to a fireside that night. It was decision time. Pay for gas on the Sabbath when I had every opportunity to do it the night before, or exercise faith and keep the Sabbath holy? We pooled our trust in the power of obedience and struck out for the fireside.

As we sat inside my bus on the shoulder of the interstate, immobile for want of petrol, we determined that, at least in some cases, faith doesn't make up for sheer idiocy.