Last evening Christopher and I had a graduation party to attend. One of his co-workers had finally finished her degree, and she was treating her friends to a wonderful dinner at the Indigo Grille in Little Italy. We were really looking forward to this event’not only to celebrate her achievement but, frankly, because we had been meaning to eat at that restaurant but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
We climbed into Christopher’s Miata and, top down in the warm air, headed off around 5:45 to make the 6pm start time. As we zipped through Hillcrest and headed down the steep Laurel Street hill (which overlooks the airport) we were having a lovely conversation and enjoying the holiday lights. Christopher turned onto Kettner, and suddenly said, “What’s happening to my car?!” I looked at his dash, and it was clear that his engine had suddenly died, even though we couldn’t hear the change because of the ambient noise on the street.
Christopher steered to the curb, luckily in a legitimate parking area. He said, “I don’t know what’s wrong—I couldn’t be out of gas.” I looked at the gauge, which sure looked like it was on ‘E,’ but didn’t say anything at first. He tried the engine a couple of times, but it wasn’t thinking of starting and sounded suspiciously like it was, surprise, not getting any fuel. C went on to say that he hadn’t gone enough miles for the tank to be empty, even if it did read ‘E.’
I understood his logic, but I was suspicious. See, the one few negatives of Miatas is the gas tank. When you fuel up, the tank has a tendency to pop the release on the fueling hose prematurely, so you have to sort of guess whether the tank really is full or just ‘burping.’ It is entirely possible to finish filling up, only to find that, as you pull out of the station, you’ve got 7/8 of a tank instead of a full one. Because of that, sometimes you get well over 300 miles a tank (in mixed driving) and sometimes considerably less. But, I have found that ‘E’ really does mean ‘empty,’ regardless of the miles driven.
So, I told C to call AAA and that I was pretty sure we were just out of gas, “But, if we’re not, this is why we got AAA—just in case.” He nodded and got his member card and cell phone out.
Christopher didn’t seem to believe me or the gauge, and was still skeptical as he called AAA. He told them that his car was dead and mentioned that he may be out of gas, but that he didn’t think that was the problem. They said they’d send a truck with gas first, then, if that didn’t work, we could get a tow—no problem.
While we waited, we got an extremely close view of the underbelly of several jets as we were directly on the landing path. In fact, the way the wind was blowing, the engine noise, post-landing, reverberated down the street in a very unusual manner. Interesting way to pass the time waiting.
The truck found us in very short order and the incredibly perky and polite driver popped a couple of gallons into the car. As the driver told C how to prime the injectors, the gauge popped off ‘E.’ Then, with one crank, the car roared to life.
C didn’t want to look at me. Eventually, as we headed to the restaurant, I gently reminded him, “Sometimes ‘E’ really does mean ‘empty.’” He took it very well.