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Humor: Gas Tank Roulette
There must be something about guys that draws them, like June bugs to a porch light, to risky behavior.
You just know that it was a guy who first used a lighter to test the flatulence flammability theory. And being male is a common denominator among many whose final words were, “Hey guys, watch this!”
It’s not like females never do anything dicey. It’s just that the fairer gender generally has the sense to avoid such obvious risks as grabbing bare electrical wires to see if they still have juice.
This is because females tend to think more strategically than males. While women are playing three-dimensional chess, we guys are squatting in the dust, watching ants scurry about.
An example of these gender discrepancies can be seen in the divergent approaches my wife and I take regarding automotive fuel level management.
We might be rolling down the highway – listening to Roll On Down the Highway by Bachman-Turner Overdrive – when my wife will look at the instrument panel and emit a small, sudden gasp. Convinced that we are about to collide with an immovable object, I will instinctively jump on the brakes. But close inspection of the road ahead reveals nothing but wide open spaces.
“Why did you hit the brakes?” my wife will ask.
“Because it sounded as if you just saw something in the road! Something large and solid and scary, like a sasquatch or Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
“It wasn’t that! It’s just that, well…”
“What? Did I spill something on myself and not notice it? It better not be those scraggly nose hairs again because I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of them. The mere thought of a tweezers is enough to make my eyes water.”
“No, it’s not that. Have you checked the gas gauge lately?”
I’ll scrutinize the gas gauge. Its needle hovers between half and full.
“What’s wrong with the gas gauge?” I’ll ask.
“Nothing! But the tank is getting kind of low. Maybe we should stop at the next gas station and fill up.”
“Are you kidding? We can go another 200 miles before we’ll need gas!”
“Fine! Have it your way. I just don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere and freeze to death.”
“But it’s summertime! The only freezing we have to worry about would be if we drank our slushies too fast and got frozen food headaches.”
“I said fine,” she’ll reply in a manner that tells me that the discussion is over. “I would like to point out that I’m not the one who had to call his wife and ask for a ride because he ran out of gas.”
The words swiftly find their target. My male ego is deflated by an inconvenient truth.
When my wife and I were young newlyweds, I made a game of seeing how low my pickup’s gas tank could go. This was before vehicles were equipped those annoying idiot chimes that go “bing, bing!” to convey the message, “Check the gas gauge, idiot!”
I felt a jolt of excitement whenever I got into my pickup and its gas gauge was flirting with the “E.” The game was on! How accurate is that gauge?
Pretty accurate, I discovered. Walking the tightrope of a nearly-empty gas tank is risky business. Playing the odds eventually caught up to me.
One day, I was scurrying about our dairy farm when I decided to dash to town for supplies. I jumped into the pickup and tore off, ignoring the fact that the gas gauge’s needle had plummeted into negative territory.
Scarcely 2 miles later, the pickup chugged to a halt. I had lost at the game of gas tank roulette!
Cell phones had yet to be invented and implanted into our skulls at birth. I had no choice but to walk to the nearest farm and ask the neighbor lady if I could use her phone. I called my wife and told her that the pickup had died and asked her to come and get me.
“What happened to the pickup?” she asked suspiciously.
“Nothing serious. Just a minor fuel problem.”
“I see. And might this problem be solved with that can of gas you keep in the shop?”
“That’s a good theory. Maybe you should bring the can along so we can test it.”
Her theory was correct; a splash of gasoline quickly revived the pickup.
After all these years, my wife and I still disagree over which half of the gas tank should be kept full. And I still feel a twinge of excitement whenever I catch a glimpse of a gas gauge that has plunged daringly close to the quarter mark.
Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at Workman.com and in bookstores nationwide.