The gas light is on.

by Justin

Nicole and I, perhaps drunk on my employment, decided that the time was ripe to purchase a television. We, children of second-hand internet sales, found a juicy deal on Craigslist and set about bringing an unnecessary, high-tech, too-flat glowing box into our (temporary) home.

We would leave this evening, drive a short distance, and return victorious. I called Nicole when I left the office to let her know I was headed home. Four minutes later I walked in the door and discovered that she was hysterical and terrified. Why? Icarus had wrenched himself and his leash free from her hand upon seeing some secret animal off in the woods. He then charged out into the road, which happened to be busy because the daycare across the street was unloading its wards over to their parents.

Nicole, one can imagine, immediately embraced the worst possible scenario and flew into a panic of the-dog-is-gone-and-dear-god-how-will-I-tell-Justin. She got Icarus back as soon as he lost sight of his quarry, came home, and broke down. Those four minutes must have been a sight to behold. But she recovered from the trauma, and Icarus remained as oblivious as ever.

Shortly thereafter, just before we walked out the door to drive to Stony Brook and complete our cash transaction, Nicole received a phone call from an old colleague. The conversation exploded into unending somethings, slowing down our exit. And lo, we were running late. Not that the scheduled time was terribly inflexible, but still. We got into the car, Nicole still locked into the explosion on the other end of her phone, and realized we’d grabbed none of the blankets needed to successfully transport this television. We ran back inside.

It’s raining, by the way. There’s a dense fog hanging low over the ground, amplified by the reflected light from street lamps. It’s the kind of haze that headlights turn opaque.

Back to the car with the blankets and off to get the TV! But wait! The gas gauge indicated a level just below E. Ah, yes. I’d neglected to address that on Sunday, and here we were. So, newcomers to the area that we are, we consulted our GPS. Nicole picked the closest gas station and off we went. Now, said gas station was basically 10 minutes in the opposite direction we wanted to go. But by the time that became clear, we felt it more prudent to get gas than save time.

The gas station was long since boarded up and closed. The Citgo letters lost their red, the little shop was hollow and boarded up, the pumps looked like they’d been beaten by other drivers frustrated by GPS directions.

Regroup, new destination, this one more or less in the right direction. Turning around required that we weave our way through a neighborhood that when bathed in the terror of fog seemed to leap right out of every horror movie. That was a bonus, at least.

The gas light popped on. My car believes that if you’ve failed to observe the dwindling of your gas supply, that orange light should only serve to punctuate and mock your negligence. It’s subtitle is You Blew It. Really, you’ve got maybe five miles before the girl quits. But we made it to a gas station! One unknown to the GPS and much closer than we had dared hope.

The instruction screen read something like this: O P $56HG L1111HPO5520–_. That’s a poor approximation, though, because I can’t type such that bits of each letter and number are missing – you know, like an old digital clock that offers no distinction between 5:55 and 8:22. The bonus: this machine required that I input my zip code to complete authorization. Three attempts sealed the deal.

Then into the little shop to use the ATM and get out cash. But I discovered that this machine, glowing with a remarkably accurate and responsive touch screen, had a curiously low maximum withdrawal amount. I could not get out enough cash to get that fancy flatscreen in Stony Brook!

At this point I began to suspect that perhaps the time was less than ripe for buying a television. (In point of fact, the time is very clearly not ripe to drop that kind of cash.)

Ten minutes later I was deeply concerned about this appointment to buy a television. So palpable was this malaise that Nicole decided to call off the errand. She called the guy with the TV and explained that a series of unfortunate events had made us second-guess the venture. I’m told he was very cool about it.