Tuesday, May 29, 2007

five hours driving nowhere

I'm upset at myself for having spent five hours driving today and not gotten anywhere. My plan was to go to Oakland to spend the night with a friend before checking out a possible summer internship all day tomorrow. My journey was cut short when I found myself in the middle of California with no money and no gas.

Ok, that last statement is an exaggeration. But what happened was that I managed to drive approximately 130 miles north, just past Bakersfield, decide that my car needed gas, only to realize that I'd left home without my wallet. That is, I'd left home without my driver's license, credit cards, and cash. Lucky for me, I had $7.49 cents in my coin bucket -- the dollars stowed for emergency parking on the USC campus, plus some miscellaneous change.

Some quick calculations based on the small amount of gas remaining in the tank, plus the approximately 2 gallons I could purchase at the price of $3.719/gallon, and I thought I just might have enough to get back home, or at least close enough that I could convince someone from LA to come get me if I ended up stranded nearby.

Other options that I considered were trying to get to some cash transfer place (was it Western Union that used to have those commercials?) in Bakersfield, but I couldn't get anyone on the phone at 4:30 in the afternoon, and I had no idea how I'd find such a place. I thought about trying to sell my iPod or the Garmin GPS I had in the car at a discounted price to other gas station customers. I thought about what kind of loss I might have to take. I thought about making money via my services: I could offer to work at the gas station, after all, they did have a Help Wanted sign in the window. Or maybe I could wash dishes at the IHOP next door. I could offer drivers 5 minute massages for $5. I thought about how I might approach strangers to ask them to lend me money. Then I thought about how strangers who approach us for money usually don't seem credible.

In the end I decided to fill up the tank with as much gas as I could afford, turn around and head home. Going a pretty consistent 55mph with the windows rolled up and no AC, I just had enough gas to get home (my gas indicator on).

I don't know if my head it just not screwed on right these days or what, but I've booked a flight to Oakland for tomorrow morning and I hope that I make it without too much of a close call. I'm going to go fill my tank now in case I don't have time to tomorrow...