So, I was supposed go to San Francisco last Monday. My husband had a doctor’s appointment.
It’s a 500 mile round trip, and we only had about $75 to make it on, so I was very worried. Still we had to go – Francis had waited 2 months for this appointment and if he rescheduled, he’d probably have to wait 2 more.
So, we arranged to borrow my mother’s car, which had a full tank of gas and gets much better mileage than ours. (Mom’s car has been known to have some weird ignition problems, but we’re covered under her roadside assistance, so I wasn’t too worried about it stranding us.) I packed up a cooler full of food so we wouldn’t have to stop for road food along the way. We’d planned to drive down, go to the appointment, then drive back the same day – getting us home by bedtime.
We arose early Monday morning and got the car packed up. I was feeling very competent, for once I hadn’t forgotten anything – food, water, directions, meds (in case an emergency delayed us past time to take them.)
Last thing before we left, we made an offering to Hermes for a safe journey and return. Or that’s what we intended to do. He misspoke the prayer and instead of asking that we travel “in safety and without incident,” he said “without safety.” A minor error. He corrected it an attempted to make the offering. After 3 tries the coals would not light. This made us uneasy, but we started over from the beginning, saying the prayer correctly and everything went smoothly.
So we said goodbye to mom, climbed into the car and turned the key.
It wouldn’t start.
The ignition problem. Usually, if we switch keys it’ll work. I borrowed mom’s key. Nothing. About half the time he tried the key there would be absolutely no response – the usual problem. The other half of the time, the dash lights would come on and the car would ding at him for having his door open with the key in the ignition. Something new.
I thought maybe it was the battery, so we tried jump starting it using our car.
We were obviously going to have to use our car for the trip after all. I had done the math, and the only way we could make it there and back was if the car’s freeway mileage was significantly better than in town. And by “significantly” I mean 8 – 10 mpg better. It’s an old car. I was not confident.
We decided, with mom’s permission, to try to siphon some of the gas out of her car to give us an edge. So, after crawling around the attic looking for a proper hose, Francis tries to suck some of the gas out. He can’t get any suction. Neither can I. I fill the hose with water to check for leaks and try to get the siphon started that way. (Most of the water poured out onto the street as planned, but now I’m afraid some of it might have dribbled into her tank.)
It didn’t work either.
Apparently her car is protected against that sort of thing.
We look at our car.
“We’ve got roadside assistance.” I tell him, trying to be optimistic. “If we run out of gas, they’ll come and get us going again, right?”
“They’d probably only put in a gallon or so. If we can get within 20 miles of home, we’re free and clear.”
“2o miles, huh? It’s unlimited calls. Do you think they’d let us call them every twenty miles?”
“Yeah, we’re not supposed to make this trip.”
Happy ending: when Francis called the doctor’s office to reschedule, they were able to give him an appointment for this Monday, which is after we get paid. It will be a much more relaxed trip.
I don’t know what would have happened if we’d tried to go anyway. At best, I imagine us stranded by the side of the road trying to argue the Allstate people into putting more gas in the tank. At worst? I don’t want to think about it.
The Gods do look out for us. Just not always in the way we’d like Them to.