from August 28, 2006
I had a really bad day when I commuted 30 miles into San Antonio by motorcycle, and thought I might brighten someone else’s day by sharing it.
Got up this morning early to get a good start on the work day. Helped the wife get the kids dressed, fed, etc. and ready for school.
Oldest child (9) was so tired I gave him caffeine to wake up; the youngest (4) drank most of the Dr. Pepper I gave the oldest.
Yes, sugar and caffeine will wake up a four year old. Getting her off of the ceiling is another matter.
Went out to start the motorcycle: noticed a strange glow from the bike barn.
I left the motorcycle tail light on all night, draining the motorcycle battery. However, the battery is new, so the bike starts. As I warm the bike up, I note that gas is a bit low, but should be more than enough to make town and the gas station.
Three miles from edge of town, traffic is stopped cold due to a short cycling traffic light. (Why do they put traffic lights across US freeways anyway? Isn’t that why God invented overpasses? Oh yeah, TxDOT does not believe in God.) Go into reserve tank while in traffic.
Traffic moves one car length at a time, causing cramps in my clutch hand. I use neutral and coast to massage my clutch hand against my leg. (Motorcycle riders know what I’m talking about)
Half an hour later when I cross the light, I note that I can still make work in time even though I need to stop for gas.
Run out of gas in heavy traffic at 65 miles per hour. You have not LIVED until you navigate a dead motorcycle across three lanes of traffic while coasting. No longer need caffeine to wake up at this point: pure adrenalin, baby. (Note to self: a half hour in traffic will drain motorcycle reserve tank)
Gas station is still a mile away, uphill. Call my boss to ask for help. Boss is stuck in traffic and is bumming a ride in any case; suggests I call my coworker, who we will call Fred as I am sure he does not want to be associated with this story in any way.
Fred goes off looking for a gas can to buy and fill with one gallon of premium (never use anything else in a motorcycle!) gasoline.
Although my bike is four or five feet from the actual traffic, I opt to sit on the concrete barrier that separates the freeway for the access road. The blazing heat from the morning sun is cooled by the steady breeze created by hurling semi-tractor trailers just missing the narrow shoulder I am sitting on.
As I keep watch for any inattentive drivers who might make me hurdle the concrete barrier to avoid bodily injury, I notice that several ants are attempting to climb said barrier. They get so far, and then the wind from a passing truck knocks them back to the bottom of the barrier. They never stop climbing, even though there is nothing at the top of the barrier that could conceivably interest an ant. I try not to ruminate on possible parallels with my work at the office. (Just kidding, boss!)
An hour later, Fred comes walking up the freeway with the gas can. (How can they charge $12 for a 1.5 gallon plastic container?!?). Fred assumed, quite correctly, that it was unsafe to pull a car off of the road where I have been sitting, and so parked up the access road. As we assemble the nozzle to the $12 gas can (I still cannot believe the can cost more than the gas!), I notice the can claims to be spill and leak proof.
The gas can leaks…
…and does not pour out gas when inverted.
After much exclamation, I note that the now gasoline-soaked sticker on the can has a small ‘peel here’ arrow. It won’t peel, of course.
Finally, instructions are revealed under the sticker, along with many warnings of all of the dire things that can happen when you buy a gas can at a convenience store at 7:45 am. Ignoring the warnings (what else can go wrong?) we find out that THIS gas can is for cars only, and you have to perform surgery on the nozzle to seal it to ‘prevent possible leakage.’ So we attempt to follow the directions while any part we happen to set down are blown into traffic by those hurling semi-trucks. We also discover that you have to pull back on the nozzle valve (as if you were inserting the nozzle into a car gas tank) to get the gas flowing. On a more positive note, this 1.5 gallon gas can boasts a ‘two gallon per minute flow rate!’
So I get the now not-leaking can into position and pull back the nozzle valve.
Two gallons per minute into a three inch deep metal hole produces one heck of a splash. I am now covered in gasoline along with my bike, the freeway, and Fred. Fred happened to move my helmet away from the bike just before this (thanks Fred!) so one item I will be wearing does not stink of gas.
The motorcycle still does not have any gas in it. We figure out how to rig the silly thing well enough to fill the bike, and Fred takes the gas can back up the road with my profuse thanks and the cash contents of my wallet to compensate him for the trouble and expense.
I make it to the gas station, where I fill the bike and go inside to clean up. The door to the Men’s room is locked, so I wait. My exposed skin is burning from the gasoline when, 10 minutes later, a lady approaches with a key that says ‘Lady’s room’ and unlocks that door.
I get the key to the Men’s, (strangely enough, attached to an 8 by 10 picture frame) and clean up.
I am now over an hour late for work. I get back on the freeway… and notice that traffic is stopped again. Not wasting any thoughts on the ironic fact that my former squatting spot is now not getting any breeze, I duck off down an exit ramp, and take an alternate route to work.
At work, my boss, who sold me the bike, razzes me about him owning that motorcycle for 13 years and never running out of gas… I refrain from committing homicide by reminding myself that killing your boss will most likely get you fired.
The rest of the day went well, since so many have asked…