Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sooners Have Always Been Takers

Over the weekend we ran out of fuel.

While parked in a truck stop.

I know, I know.  It sounds ridiculous.  Let me explain.

We'd been sitting for three days waiting on a load. I decided I was going to make some lunch and while I was in the middle of cooking it, the generator died.  Everything died. The TV went black, the stove shut off, and the air conditioner stopped blowing cold air. This was going to be a problem.

This occasionally happens when we run too many gadgets and appliances off the generator. The circuit gets overloaded and it trips a breaker. It's an easy fix and Ed usually has things up and running in seconds. I didn't expect it to happen since I was only using the stove, so I turned to Ed and said, "What the hell?"

He got up and checked the voltage, pressed a few buttons, nothing.  We tried to restart the generator but it just chugged and chugged, didn't start. Nothing. 
Then he tried the truck. It turned over but didn't start. He tried it a few more times, but nothing was working. The fuel gauge said we had 1/4 tank of fuel. So why were we getting nothing?

We were two truck-lengths (about 160 feet) from the fuel pumps, so I suggested to Ed that he roll back and steer into the fuel island, backwards. But because we had no air pressure, our brakes couldn't be released.  And if we couldn't release the brakes, we couldn't move the truck. And because he couldn't start the truck, we couldn't build the air needed to release the brakes.  So my master plan of rolling backwards was effectively thwarted. We were parked on a hill, nose up. The generator was running non-stop for three days, which of course uses fuel, but we still should have had plenty.  

Ed was able to prime the fuel pump and get the truck started and running long enough to disengage the brakes so the truck would roll backwards, getting us out of the parking spot. But as soon he backed out, the truck died again.  So he primed the fuel pump again, which involves all kinds of shit I don't know or care about - lifting the hood, opening the fuel filter, filling it with fuel, putting the cap back on the filter, closing the hood and then priming the pump - if you know what that means, you know what was being done. Bottom line, it's a hassle.

Meanwhile, inside the sleeper, the temperature was rising.  The interior of the sleeper was now at 94 degrees. I was dying, but also smart enough to know not to complain because Ed was the one outside in the blistering Oklahoma heat trying to get the goddamned truck moving.  When I peeked out I saw sweat pouring down his face, and him blinking the stinging drips from his eyes. He finally g
ot the truck started and began to move toward the fuel island, but it died again, this time blocking five fuel lanes. Wonderful.

Luckily, I spied a small flatbed tow-truck used to tow cars in the fuel lane next to us and suggested Ed ask the guy to pull us forward into the fuel island.  We were now literally 30 feet from the pump. We had enough air built up now to keep the brakes disengaged long enough for the truck to roll freely into the fuel lane once the tow truck pulled us forward. So Ed asked the driver, he said yes, and Ed hooked one end of the chain to the front of our truck and the other end to the back of the tow-truck.  It worked beautifully. And since we weren't loaded, we were easily pulled into the fuel island.

Once there, Ed primed the fuel pump again, and filled the fuel tanks to a record level of 250 gallons! The tanks were dry as a bone. And we now know that when the fuel gauge reads 1/4 tank, it's time to refuel. Which reminds me of something my grandfather always said, "Never go anywhere with less than a half tank of gas in the car".

The most disappointing part of the whole experience is that the guy in the tow truck took $20 to pull us 30 feet.  Ed did cough up the fatal words of "I can pay you", to which the guy responded, "Twenty bucks oughta do it."

Granted, we didn't have to call a tow company, which would have cost us significantly more than 20 dollars, but I think the human thing to do would have been for him to decline Ed's offer of payment and just say, "No problem, I got it."

We were in Oklahoma, for christsake.  What happened to good 'ol Okie country boy kindness? The guy didn't even really do anything. Ed did all the chaining. All the guy did was get in his truck and drive forward 30 feet.

I got a flat tire once in Arizona.  I was on the way to my friend Kim's house to use the pool at her neighborhood. It was the middle of summer and it was ungodly hot. This little old Mexican man stopped to help me.  He opened the truck to get the spare and realized it was also flat. He said he'd take it to the gas station to air it up. I didn't know what my options were, so I said okay and waited with my car for him to return.  Worst case scenario, I'd be out a flat spare.  He returned about 15 minutes later with the spare tire all aired up and ready to go and put it on my car.

He then proceeded to change my tire. In the blazing midday Arizona sun. When he was done, I offered him money. He refused. I insisted. He adamantly refused again, saying it was no problem, he was happy to help. Then he left.

That is what the Oklahoma guy should have done. It would have been the right, neighborly, and kind thing to do.

I'm very disappointed in you, Oklahoma. You had a chance to shine and you blew it. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: The Original Walking Dead

2013: Hey! It's A Million Degrees Outside. Wanna Help Me Move?
2012: Kind Of Like A Virtual Celebrity Bodyguard
2011: Things Are Going Just Swimmingly
2010: A Real Truck Driver Meets A Real Housewife
2009: Stars Glowing, Wine Flowing, Sax Blowing
2008: Western Ed Friday
2007: Salena Kandinsky
2006: Bam! Traumatized.
2005: Swing Low Sweet Chariot


Unknown said...

Gosh, I'm so sorry Oklahoma disappointed you! I live in Oklahoma and it disappoints me every day. Several times a day! But I always hate it even worse when we're a public embarrassment. Simple good manners and kindness seem to be in short supply everywhere these days. I hope you'll give us another chance next time your travel brings you back to Oklahoma. It's a beautiful state with lots of really great people. Just not that one guy ;)

Gil said...

Sorry to hear that you nearly got cooked alive. The guy should have towed you for free, but he could of needed the $20 to feed his family. Who knows these days. Some of my race car friends keep a can of fuel in their trailers. Would that be illegal for you and Ed to do? Glad it didn't take too long to get fuel!

Mick said...

Oh no! That must have been horrible. I know how you can't stand the heat, but for Ed it must have been awful. The guy shouldn't have taken money from you-it should have been a "De nada" situation. But, I'm glad you got going again!

Ed said...

A little light hearted defense of Oklahoma. My father is from there. If it weren't for Oklahoma, I wouldn't exist.