September 25, 2005

Running on Empty

Out here in the country, there are very few services. So yesterday, when I got in the car to drive to a "Miracle Day" meeting, I was dismayed to find the gas tank on empty. The digital display inside the car said that I had 13 miles until I ran out of gas; that's 13 miles DTE, or "distance 'til empty." Fortunately, there is one gas station nearby, just five miles away. I hardly ever go there unless I'm desperate, because the prices are high, but yesterday, I was desperate. So I drive the five miles out of my way, but when I pull in to the station, I find cardboard signs taped to the fuel pumps: "closed for remodeling."

Now I have 9 miles DTE. Heading south, the direction I needed to travel, it's 20 more miles to the nearest gas, on the north side of Sacramento. I consider returning home and not attending the meeting; but it's a really important meeting, about a big one-day renovation we're having in six weeks, and I really needed to be there.

I consider the fact that, just maybe, the DTE is a conservative estimate, and that perhaps there is actually more fuel left than it indicates. After all, the DTE is merely an estimate, based on the car's average gas mileage. After considering the options, I decide to head south, and see if I can make it the 20 miles to the gas station. If I make it, great, but if not, at least I won't be able to say I didn't do everything I could to attend.

I watch as the DTE gets lower and lower. Amazingly, it takes about 15 miles for the DTE to go from 9 to 0. But finally, it does reach zero. I wait for the car to sputter and die, but it doesn't. I try not to think about how running out of gas might damage the fuel pump on this, the only car we have left that runs.

I exit at Del Paso Road and turn left. To my right is Arco Arena, home of the world champion Sacramento Monarchs (not that I've ever made it to one of their games). To my left is the gas station; I pull in and fill up.

Despite running on empty for five miles, I make it to my meeting. In so many other ways I feel like I'm running on empty these days, wondering if I'll make it, and so what happened yesterday gives me hope. Perhaps I'll make it after all.


reverendmother said...

Ooh! So glad you made it.

Hope you can get a good spiritual refill really soon too.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Jehovah Jireh!