Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Story about Gas

Okay, I admit it.

Tom usually puts the gas in my car.

It's not because I'm a spoiled brat or anything. I swear, I'm not like one of those women who are all, "But my nails will break." Because, to be honest, I don't give two hoots about my nails. Probably because I've been known to chew my nails. I know, it's a disgusting habit. I've tried to stop, I swear.

Also, let it be known that I can pump my own gas. I had to learn how to do a lot of stuff on my own when Tom deployed for six months.

I had to learn to mow the lawn, for instance.

See, I grew up with one of those push mowers without an engine. So I never had to learn how to turn it on. Because you would just push the thing and that was it. I hated it, by the way.

Tom bought a gas mower, of course. I mentioned getting a push mower because it was cheaper and his jaw practically fell off because he opened his mouth so wide in surprise.

"I hope you're joking," he said after he had picked his chin off the floor.

"I'm not. My parents had a push mower," I pointed out.

"Well MY parents had a gas mower. And that's what we're getting," Tom argued.

I dropped it because after all, he would be the one mowing the yard.

Until he deployed, that is.

Before he left I asked him to show me how to use the thing. He led me out into the back where it was waiting. It didn't look scary just sitting there quietly.

But then Tom pulled the string and it rumbled to life.

I jumped slightly.

"Can you lower the volume?" I asked stupidly. I don't know why I even asked that. I already knew the answer.

"No," Tom answered. "My advice is to make sure there aren't any rocks in the yard. Otherwise they can pop up and hurt you."

Oh. Right.

Scan yard for rocks. Check.

"And...how do you turn it off?" I inquired, gesturing to the mower that I had secretly named Red. Because it was red. And shiny. Well, maybe not THAT shiny. It was sort of muddy on the bottom but some parts still gleamed in the sun at least.

Tom stared at me as though I had just flashed him. When he realized I was serious, he let go of the mower handle and it suddenly fell silent.


I had assumed there was a switch that you pushed to turn it off.

"So I just let go of the handle and that turns it off? The things you learn," I said with a shrug.

Tom was still looking at me with a confused expression on his face. Or maybe it was pity.

"Okay. You need to turn it on yourself now," Tom said and moved to the side.


Easy enough.

You just pull the string thing.

So I walked over all determined and grasped the small handle attached to the string. I gave it a big pull and...



"You have to pull harder," Tom called out.

The thing was, I HAD pulled it hard. I mean, I don't have the greatest arm strength in the world you know.

So I tried again.

And still. Nothing.

"Red is an asshole!" I shrieked. I would have given it a kick but I didn't want the blade to slice off my toes. I like my toes.

Tom gave a loud sigh. He didn't even look shocked that I had named the lawn mower. I tend to name a lot of inanimate objects.

"Pull harder," Tom repeated.

So I took a deep breath and tried one more time. I tugged as hard as I possibly could--I nearly fell over from the force, to be honest--and Red came to life.

"I'm mowing!" I shouted to Tom as I pushed Red along the yard.

"Watch out for--" Tom warned.

But was too late. Red made a sickening noise and I let go in horror.

It turns out I had run over Tommy's tiny rake.

When Tom moved Red all that was left of the rake was a mangled mess of blue plastic.

"Also," Tom said as he removed the pieces of toy. "Make sure there are no toys in the yard."

"Toys and rocks. Check," I said.

The other thing Tom showed me how to do was fill my own gas. That was another thing that I had done before but admittedly, it wasn't that often.

Usually someone was always around to do it for me.

When I was still living at home, my Dad did it.

When I was in college, I had friends who would do it.

When I got married, Tom did it.

When we were first married, we only had one car. So he just took care of the gas.

But when he deployed, I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. We were stationed in England at the time and the gas station could get quite crowded and I was worried that some soldier would yell at me for taking too long.

So we drove to the gas station and at first I totally forgot that I was meant to get out of the car and watch Tom.

Until he rapped on my window.

I jumped in surprise.

"You can't see what I'm doing from in there!" Tom bellowed.

Actually, I could but I didn't want to say that. I just got out of the car and stood beside him.

"I think in Oregon that people still pump your gas for you. I wish people still did that," I said wistfully.

"Well, they don't," Tom replied. He handed me the pump and I expertly put it in the car. I pushed the trigger on the gas pump and the gas started to flow.

"So...what do you look at when the gas is pumping?" I asked Tom. I wasn't sure if I should look at the sky, the car, my feet, what? Do I make conversation with the person next to me? I glanced at the person beside me and she was on her cell phone gabbing about someone named Reese.

I wonder if she was related to Reese Witherspoon?

"Amber, you ask the weirdest things. I just stand here until the pump clicks at me. Sometimes I wash the windows," Tom said and gestured to a squeegee that was sitting in filty water beside us.

Anyhow, I did fine when Tom was deployed.

About a year after he came home, we moved here. (To Wyoming.) We ended up getting two vehicles. Before we only had one. Tom did say that he'd still fill the gas up in my car if I wanted.

Of course, I think he was only being polite. Because when I'd cheerfully tell him that my car needed gas he'd sigh and go, "Isn't it about time that you get your own gas?"

Well, obviously I COULD, but he offered.

But then the other day I realized that my poor PT Cruiser was nearly on empty. Usually I ask Tom to fill it when it gets to half a tank. But this time I forgot.

So I decided that I'd just get the gas. By myself.

I drove to the gas station and pulled up beside the gas pump. I got out and..

Realized that my gas cap was on the OTHER side.



With a pink face I got back into my PT Cruiser and corrected my mistake.

Some guy was snickering at me, I think. He was up front and had seen the whole thing.

Oh well.

I got out and expertly inserted my debit card and then pulled the gas nozzle out.

You see snickering guy? I know what I'm doing.

But then I realized I forgot to OPEN my gas cap first. I was so eager to show the guy that I knew what I was doing that I forgot. So I had to put the pump BACK and then open my gas cap.

"You okay over there?" the guy shouted. He laughed again and I was tempted to grab the SqueeGee and hurl it at him. But let's be honest, it wouldn't have made it that far anyhow.

"I'm great!" I lied even though it was FREEZING. No wonder why I prefer to have Tom pump gas. Because it's cold.

The gas seemed to take forever to finish flowing into my car. Probably because I was nearly on empty. But I just wanted to get out of there at that point because the guy was still there and I felt like he was watching me. He probably thought I'd spill gas all over the place and do a dance in it or something.

Plus, Natalie was in the backseat and she was miffed that she had been left in the car. I saw her thrashing back and forth in her carseat, trying to get out. She'd shriek "MOM!" every three seconds and then thrash again. I saw her adorable bow that I had placed in her hair go flying across the car since she was shaking so hard.

Which is another reason why I prefer to have Tom pump my gas. So I don't send my daughter into convulsions.

Finally, I heard the click and I put the pump back, grabbed my receipt, and hurried back into the car.

"MOM MOM MOM MOM!" Natalie was screaming. "MOMMM!" She was so upset and her eyes were squished shut so she didn't even realize I was back.

"I'm back," I practically had to scream.

Natalie's eyes opened and she took a deep breath and went, "Mom."

Then she was silent.

Sometimes I think my daughter has been possessed or something.

I was about to drive off but then I realized I had left my debit card in the slot.


So I had to get back out and grab it and the guy was STILL THERE (seriously dude, was your truck on EMPTY or something?) and he began to chuckle.

Then Natalie started to get worked up again.


"I'm HERE. I'm BACK!" I exclaimed, sliding in front of the wheel.

"Oh hi, Mom," Natalie said sweetly.


I don't think I'll ever fully understand Natalie.

Anyhow, I was so proud of myself that when I got home I called Tom at work.

"Hello?" he answered.

"Tom! Guess what?" I shouted.

"Amber? Is that you?"

I frowned. "How many women call you?" I mean seriously. Who has been calling my husband?

"Um, my boss for one," Tom pointed out.

Oh. Right.

Anyhow, I didn't need to dwell on that.

So I just said, "I got gas!" and didn't even realize what words I had used until Tom replied,

"Huh? We have Beano in the medicine cabinet I think. Amber, this really isn't something that you needed to call me about."

"No, not that kind of gas. I got gas for the car," I corrected.

"Great. Does this mean I won't ever have to get it for you again?" Tom wondered. He didn't even sound impressed.

Wait a minute.

"Um," I said. "Not exactly. Well, I mean, you can just get gas for me when it's cold."

"Oh, I see. It's okay if I freeze then," Tom said sarcastically.

"Well. You know. The whole chivalry is not dead thing," I pointed out.

Seriously. A man should be happy to pump gas for his mate so she doesn't have to freeze. Right?


  1. This is hilarious! You're a great writer.

    I got my own gas for years, so I definitely know how to do it. But since I always have the kids with me, my husband tries to do it now whenever possible, so I admit I've gotten out of practice. It feels sort of funny now when I get it myself and I even have to think about which version of unleaded I'm supposed to use!

  2. This is too funny! I love it... The lawn mower part is the part I like the most... or was it the guy at the pump laughing at you! So many choices. Thanks for the giggles today!


    Please visit me at http://www.askbecca.com

  3. That. Is hilarious.
    I've totally been there. But I also don't know how to mow the lawn...

  4. I mow our lawn... riding mower (don't be too impressed!)
    And I agree, husbands should freeze while suppling our cars with gas.
    Over from SITS.

  5. Too funny! In New Jersey all of the gas stations are full service. You can't pump your own gas even if you want to.

    I'd like to move there.

  6. Ok! That is funny:0)

    I came by to welcome you to SITS! It's great to have you in the SITStahood:0)

  7. Hello SITStah. Your writing is so funny!!! Lovely story. We have had a "red" or two of ours as well. I learned how to use a gas mower when our daughter was a baby because my husband refused to cut the lawn. He simply did not care if the grass grew to be 9 inches high. I couldn't stand it, so he said, "Then YOU cut it!" So I did. There, I showed him, right? Wait, did I????

  8. that is funny!

    i am not a big fan of getting gas when it is cold out either...i always try to orchestrate things so my husband ends up filling it up

    i am stopping by to welcome you to the SITS community, we are thrilled you joined!


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