Gas Tank Chicken

My husband is the type of person who runs out of gas. This is not hyperbole or some way of saying he gets tired easily. I mean he literally drives his car until it uses up all its fuel and stops moving. And he hasn’t done this just once or twice. It happens with some frequency. The worst part is, it isn’t like this happens when he’s out in the middle of nowhere with no gas stations around. It isn’t even because he doesn’t pay attention. He runs out of gas because he likes to play a twisted game of chicken with the inanimate object that is his gas tank. (Spoiler alert: The gas tank never flinches.)

I, on the other hand, have never run out of gas. I fill up long before the needle dips below the ¼ line – and I cannot understand how anyone in this day and age would ever allow their tank to get to empty – unless they were driving through a desolate wasteland, had a broken gas gauge, and/or had lost both their sight and hearing, in which case they probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel in the first place.

From where I sit, running out of gas is ALL downside. The only upside I can think of is the satisfaction that… what? Your nerves of steel allowed you to eek out one last mile, landing you on empty at the exact moment you roll in front of the pump? Pretty thin upside, if you ask me – considering the downside is expensive, dangerous, time-consuming, and messy.

But downside be-damned, Jimmy loves to play Gas Tank Chicken.  Except when I’m in the car with him. When I’m in the car with him, here is how things go down:

Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding.

Me: Is that the gas thing?

Jimmy: Um-hm.

Me: We should probably stop.

Jimmy: Oh no– we have like, 50 miles left. Trust me. I do this all the time.

Me: But it’s dinging.

Jimmy: I know.

Me: Doesn’t that mean it’s time to stop?

Jimmy: No – that’s just what they want you to think.

Me: That’s what who wants us to think?

Jimmy: We’re fine. Relax.

Another few minutes pass. I try to get past the ‘relax’ comment.

Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding.

Me: It’s still dinging – I think we should stop.

Jimmy: Babe, we can go another, like, 100 miles on this tank. I guarantee it. I do this all the time.

Me: Did you really just call me babe?

Jimmy: Don’t you want to see how much farther we can make it?

Me: No.

Jimmy: Aren’t you curious?

Me: Not even a little.

Jimmy: You’re telling me you don’t want to know if we could get all the way home on this tank? He smiles with a slightly insane glint in his eye.

Me: If we run out of gas – we’d have to walk. I don’t want to have to walk. That’s why we have a car.

Jimmy: We won’t have to walk. I guarantee it. Trust me, I do this all the time.

Yeah, the problem is that the other thing he does all the time is RUN OUT OF GAS. These sorts of conversations usually end in me getting all panicky and hysterical and basically insisting that we pull over and fill up. Which he does. But the entire rest of the drive he mutters to himself about how he knows we could have made it without stopping.

Need I point out the irony of a man who is completely unwilling to risk bad fruit, travels with a 6.5 pound Dopp kit (actual weight) filled with ointment, medicine, gauze, and salve for every eventuality but who IS willing to gamble on being stuck on the side of the road with cars whizzing by while he is forced to walk who-knows-how-many miles to the nearest gas station? I guess I just did. But the point is, I think this behavior may very well mark the beginnings of Jimmy’s downslide into Crazy-Old-Manhood. (That and shooting at squirrels, Lee Harvey-style, out of our book depository bathroom window. True story for another post…)

Anyone else out there play Gas Tank Chicken? If you do, please comment and enlighten me on why an otherwise sane person would EVER do this…