I set off one of the afternoons last week to Extra Foods with Rebecca, Kelly and June. We got groceries, eyed up baking tins, bought some Cadbury bars (cashew, pretzel, almond – so many new flavours here!) and I spend so much that I ended up getting a huge box of Hershey bars free. It was supposed to be kept for Halloween, but once it was opened it diminished with alarming alacrity. Now, if it hadn’t been opened at all, certain people among us would have been able to resist….
Anyway, we loaded up the van with the groceries, and I headed towards the apartment building where the girls live. I turned left onto a three-lane highway and hugged the inside lane (which is now on my right) in order to turn right at the next lights, which are about half a mile up the road. The van slowed down, so I hit the accelerator. It kept slowing and losing power, and light dawned. Horribly. I was out of petrol. With a long line of cars slowing down behind me. The girls started laughing. I put the hazard lights on, floored the accelerator and started praying. The petrol station was about one hundred yards away on my right. We were running on fumes at this stage. I was clutching the steering wheel, sweating, while the shrieks of laughter behind me got louder and the traffic jam lengthened. 20km per hour. 10km per hour. I didn’t even want to guess what the drivers behind me were thinking. Petrol station entrance coming up. Kelly had the hiccups and June had tears streaming down her face. I hated them with a passion. I went to turn right and realised that the engine had failed, along with the power steering.
Oh dear God. The size and weight of the damn thing. I stood up behind the wheel and hauled it to the right, narrowly missing the high kerb. Another wrench to the left, and the van slid in beside the pump and came to a complete halt. Right beside the pump. Right. At. The. Petrol. Pump. For all you atheists out there – there is a God. And He loves me.
A young Sikh man came over to help, and was greeted by three hiccuping, wet-faced, snorting and semi-sobbing women. I realised that I didn’t even know how to fill the bloody van. He regarded me solemnly, while I wiped the sweat from my face and gave death-glares to Kelly and June. “Emm…what type of gas, Madam?” he enquired politely. Type of gas? Seriously? I looked at the pump. Three different types. None of the labels made any sense. “The cheapest?” I hazarded wildly. He started to fill her up, so I strode around the other side of the van, opened the sliding door, and contemplated the two sodden heaps inside. “Pull yourselves together!” I hissed, but that just made them worse.
The gauge kept going and going. I thought there must a hole in the f%$^ing tank. Eventually it stopped. At $124. Ouch. I paid, swung myself back up behind the wheel, and finally got as far as the apartments. I had a stress headache and a pain in my stomach from laughing. The girls were a mess. On the plus side, we managed to establish there isn’t any warning light when the petrol runs low. It just runs out. Bet that never happened to the A-Team.