My late afternoon ‘ping’ passenger was down the hill from my house, in the industrial park. “Patty” jumped in my backseat without entering a destination.
“Where are we going?” My usual question, before my passengers offer “How long have you been driving for Uber?”
“I can’t say, that’s why I didn’t put a place in. We do have to make one stop, before that,” she said. “I ran out of gas, somewhere on the I-5. Don’t worry, we can find it. But a gas station would be the first stop.”
We headed to the first gas station. I say ‘first’ because that station had run out of gas cans. It was only Thursday and the cans were gone. Not a good sign. The second station had one. Then, off we went down the I-5. [Or, is it plain I-5, without the ‘I’?]
“Where do you think your car is?” I thought I’d get a wee idea of the area. I-5 runs smack dab into Camp Pendleton, one of America’s largest Marine base, hugging miles and miles of scenic California coast.
We passed the last south of San Clemente exit, passed Trestles beach and kept trucking south.
“What brand is your car?”
“A little Fiat. ”
A little Fiat. On the northbound I-5.
“Yes. I was late for an appointment, so I thought I’d just get to San Clemente, but when a Fiat gas gauge registers “E,” it’s empty, no leeway.”
Camp Pendleton covers both sides of the highway. No way to turn around, unless sneaking through the Highway Patrol turnaround dip, after the INS Stop-and-Desist installation.
NOTE: Mr. Dictator: We do not need a wall, not with those guys who peer into your car when the INS system suspects a breach.
At last, I could see her car, three miles further toward Mexico [I’m a writer. Instead of saying ‘south’ I thought the reference to Mexico is stronger.] I was surprised that her car was still there. Someone could have come along with a truck and shoved the wee car into the truck’s belly and disappeared..
I urged the car off the highway at the first off-ramp, did a U-turn and headed north. I turned off the Uber fare as soon as I pulled up behind her car, parked a car-length behind her, put on my emergency signals and waited for her to fill her car with the gallon of gas. Of course, the thought that we both could be smushed flashed through my mind. I ignored it.
It took ten minutes, but she got every drop of gas into her tank, came back to the car, picked up her purse from the seat, then handed me $10.
“This is cheaper than AAA,” Patty sold software for a living. She’d figured out the trip and expenses. She’ll go far.
I don’t think Patty will run out of gas again.
I looked at my gas tank. One eighth of a tank. Now, that would be a great ending, but my S-Ca-Pay is like an old VW, and would get me back to San Clemente, another 20 miles, unless I was attacked by illegal aliens, running down the hill, escaping from a band of Marines.