I am by no means a religious man. Yes, I did go to catholic school but when you grow up in a city with only 2 high schools I’m not convinced that means much. I also dated a very Christian girl but she told me that God spoke to her and said I was going to hell. So there’s that…
Recently something happened that just maybe makes me a believer. I was on my way back from Invermere (work related) which is a good 12-hour drive from Vancouver…in the Summer. Add a couple of hours of wintertime driving and you have me white-knuckled and tired. I pulled into a Kamloops gas station to get a car wash as the van I was driving was caked in brown ice from bumper to bumper. Once clean I stopped to grab a coffee and only then noticed I was low on fuel. Not wanting to deal with the hustle and bustle of downtown Kamloops I decided to hit a gas station on the outskirts as I headed south. I have driven through the area many times and in my mind, there was a truck stop off the last exit before leaving town. This last exit came and went with no gas station. I drove a good 5 minutes out before realizing this.
I had a brief internal struggle about turning around. People that know me to know that I HATE to backtrack. Hate. With that, I continued on half-heartedly looking for an exit. 10 minutes went by and nothing. When one finally came up I wasn’t convinced that I would be able to get back on the highway going the opposite way. Again, half heartedly. When I last looked the distance to the empty gauge read just over 100 km. At this point, the distance was replaced with “Low Fuel” The last sign I saw read 70 or so km to Merritt, the next town. With that, I pushed on.
Now perhaps because I was a bit sleep deprived or perhaps I had car brain, I failed to factor in the following:
1) It is a long way up before heading downhill to Merritt and…
2) I picked up a TON of old equipment in Invermere and was a heavy load.
5 minutes or so of steep climbing and delusions of still making it to a gas station passed. An audible beep was now added to the “Low Fuel” indicator. A red light came on as if to say “Hey idiot, look at me.” The delusion was followed by panic. Panic was briefly interrupted with acceptance. “So what if you run out of gas on top of a mountain in March.” My mind then wandered into embarrassment as I played out calling my work and explaining what had happened. The words “You. Are. Dumb.” freely and harshly came out of my mouth. I was abruptly brought back to panic with a now double-audible tone which drew my eyes to a fuel indicator that was about to fall off.
Hope came over me as I approached a distance sign. “I must be 20 K out,” I said out loud to myself. Nope. 50.
I cursed and coasted (about as much as you can coast uphill) for another few minutes. Snow began falling which added to the situation. In some sort of last-ditch effort, I double-crossed my fingers in a way that my recently passed grandmother had taught me. I was young, probably 7 or 8, and thought it was the coolest thing. This may have been before Nintendo but I just remembered practising it over and over until I could do it as fast as she could. This made me smile.
With four fingers crossed I gripped the wheel and coasted up one of the last peaks. As I came over the crest there straight in front of me was a bright orange sign of hope. Seconds after crossing my fingers I was presented with a pickup truck on the side of the road with a jerry can shining in the back. As I pulled over I saw some workers cutting some branches with chainsaws. I approached the truck and asked one of the workers (who had a confused and standoffish look) if by any chance there was non-mixed fuel in the jerry can. With that, he said no but mixed fuel can work just fine in a car, a little blue smoke if anything. Thank you. He very kindly emptied what he had and said I should be able to make it to Merritt. My prayers had not only been answered but handed to me.
I coasted the rest of the way down to Merrit with my double fingers crossed and a smile on my face. I rolled into a gas station and put 72.5 litres into a 70-litre tank.
Thank you, grandma. It’s nice to know someone is on my side up there. Now maybe put in a good word for me…