There is only the road. Long, dusty, hilly, deserty and deserted. Then there is the fuel gauge – red, flashing, beeping and 2 miles till empty.
‘Crap crap crap’
‘Don’t stress. It won’t help.’
‘But what if we break down out here.’ (I’m so not walking is the subtext. I’ll be like those people who break down in their cars in the snow and get found six months later dessicated inside them. It’s not snowing but that’s what I think of. I start thinking too of John hitching to find fuel and a lonesome truck driver pulling up and a whole Wolf Creek scene plays out in my mind.)
‘Coast. Don’t press the gas.’ I tell John.
‘We’re going uphill.’
‘Well put it in neutral when you get to the top.’
‘Where’s neutral? It’s an automatic. Do automatic’s have neutral?’
It would appear not because we coast downhill and the gauge rides to empty.
‘Pull over. No don’t pull over. No not here. No don’t stop in the middle lane what if we conk out right here at the lights? Look Look a gas station!’
We slide into the forecourt. I hop out jubilant and run inside (I hate this whole having to get out the car to pump gas – look at me sounding all American – I mean put petrol in the car – but this time I don’t care because they also sell ice cream inside and we need to celebrate our victory over the fuel gauge).
‘$40 of gas please,’ I tell the man.
I run my card down the machine.
‘Sorry we don’t take credit cards.’
‘Err, that’s all I have. Hang on. I’ll just get my husband….JOHN I need your cards.’
John tries swiping.
‘Is that a European bank card?’
‘Yeah, we don’t take those.’
‘We have no gas.’ We have no cash either. Only about two dollars worth of quarters with which I plan to buy my ice cream.
‘Sorry,’ the man says.
Turns out there is an ATM though and I thank God for overdrafts and Ben & Jerry’s for the invention of Cherry Garcia.