Ever run out of gas? Only dummies do that, you think to yourself. You’re not fooling me. I used to think the same thing. I always knew if that little red warning light on my dashboard ever quit working, I was walking.
So, if you’re one of those people that have never run out, I’m impressed. Just so you know, it’s one of the most helpless feelings there is (except for when you lock your keys in the car, but I’ll save that for another blog), especially when you know you could have prevented it.
We were on our way to the airport after a stress free week in Jamaica. We had given our driver, Damien, gas money earlier that morning so he could gas up the vehicle. Well, he didn’t. We were outside of Ocho Rios and a few miles from the gas station he had in mind when the car slowed to a stop on the roadside. “Are we out of gas?” I asked. No answer. The car slowed to a crawl and stopped. My heart skipped a beat and Damien jumped out of the car. My friend and I just looked at each other and then out the window. A man on a bicycle stopped. Damien sent him on his way to get us a gallon of gas. Okay, AAA Jamaican style.
It was 10:20 AM and we needed every minute to reach the airport by noon in order to be there the required two hours prior to our 2 PM flight. I’m a rule follower, so not making that deadline made me just a little edgy. I think I handled it pretty well though. I didn’t fuss or cry, but do heavy sighs count?
A taxi slowed down and asked Damien if he needed a ride. The next thing we knew, Damien jumped in the car and rode away. We looked at each other. My friend had asked me earlier if there was any chance I would want to live in Jamaica. He knew how much I loved the island and its people.
Well, I’m not a fly by the seat of the pants kinda gal and in Jamaica, you have to learn to be flexible. I reminded myself that the worst thing that could happen is we end up spending another night in Jamaica, the most beautiful place in the world. Worse things could happen.
We stood by the guardrail and then realized that it would be a better idea to get inside the car. I pulled my fan out of my purse to keep the perspiration at bay. Twenty minutes later, Damien jumped out of a cab with a gallon of gas in a five gallon container. We were excited until we realized there was no funnel to help get it into the tank. I found a laminated piece of paper and suggested we roll it up to use. Damien resisted.
“No, Mon, the guy on the bike bring the funnel.” My friend and I just looked at each other. “Welcome to Jamaica,” I said shaking my head.
We waited again. The minutes ticked off the clock. Sure enough, Bicycle Guy showed up with a funnel and another gallon of gas. We were confused, but elated. Now I prayed that gas was all we needed. It was. We were back on the road. We stopped and filled up with gas and then got behind every slow moving truck on the island. If you’ve ever driven the North Coast of Jamaica, you know how dicey it can be passing someone, but we did.
We made it to the airport around 12:30. I hugged Damien goodbye and other than not having that leisurely lunch I’d planned, all was good.
Sometimes no matter how well you plan, you can run out of gas. Whether it’s in your car or just your energy level and life sucks it all out of you. When my energy level runs low, it’s in your best interest to just step aside. I’m no fun when I’m out of gas, especially if I’ve missed a meal or might miss a flight…
So, here’s my suggestion. When you are running out of gas, try and find a quiet place. Set the timer on your phone for fifteen minutes and take that time to fill your tank up again. Close your eyes and listen. You might be surprised.
While we didn’t take the above advice as we sat on the side of the road stranded, we did send a few silent prayers up and they were answered. Can’t ask for any more than that.
By the way, Damien still gets my vote as a great driver and guide. I’m willing to bet he checks that gas gauge before he leaves town. I also reserve the right to remind him next time he drives me anywhere. Just to be on the safe side.