Monday, November 20, 2006

Driving on Empty

No BART for me today since I had to drive to San Jose for work. Traffic wasn't too terrible on 680 since a lot of people have already left for Thanksgiving. I was trying to make a 10am meeting and it was already past 9am. I needed every minute. My fuel level was probably at about 2 notches over the 1/4 mark when I left home this morning and I figured on a light traffic day, I should be able to make the roundtrip (120 miles) on over a quarter tank of gas left! HOW WRONG I WAS!

By the time I got to San Jose, a quarter tank was gone....the fuel was probably just 2 notches over "E" at this point. I knew that I would need to fill upfor sure before I reach Orinda, but I was hoping maybe I could fill up around San Ramon, or somewhere else off 680 that I am sort of familiar with and know it's safe to get gas. The gas stations near my San Jose freeway entrance are pretty shady and I've never had good experiences I try to avoid filling up there when I can. Besides, I wanted to beat rush hour yet again, every minute of headstart counts.

Within 3 miles on the freeway, the needle dropped to "E" for some reason. I knew I could still get at least 15-20 miles out of what is left of the tank so I kept on going. Well, around Sunol Grade/Sunol Pass, I started hearing loud airy pumping sounds whenever I stepped on the gas pedal. Whenever I stepped hard on the pedal, I noticed the car was not going faster. I took the nearest exit, hoping that there's a gas station....and to my dismay, there wasn't ANY in sight. I kept going, passing 3 lights. The car, at this point, was really not moving much anymore. Then I thought I saw a Chevron sign..I very slowly turned in but noticed it was a Speedy Oil Change with a "Chevron Lubricant" sign. Oh great...I thought....what the heck am I going to do?

The mechanics at Speedy Oil Change were nice enough to dump in some gasoline (from a huge 10 gallon tank) into my car, spilling gas everywhere. They also told me that the nearest gas station was 4 miles down and it would not have been good to get stuck on the street without gas since it wasn't the best neighborhood.

I guess I got pretty luck that I was able to land my car there. I made it to the gas station, filled up and drove back home.

This was the first time ever that I've ran out of gas. I usually am pretty careful about filling up before a long trip but today...I don't know what came over me. Glad things worked out OK.

Tomorrow...I'm happy to be back on BART!

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