Today in Further Tales From Obviousville
The Not-God of Cake

Stop Me If You've Heard This One

Once upon a time, approximately one and a half hours ago, I posted the following photo to Instagram:


And yes, I posted it from my car, which is of course a terrible horrible no-no thing to do, though in my defense I posted it while the car was sitting still in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Completely, terribly, horribly no-no-no-OH-FUCK still. 

(I also used the microphone thing-y to transcribe the caption. SAFETY FIRST.)

When I left my house to pick Ike up from school, the info screen informed me that I had 11 miles to go before empty. Ike's school is about four miles away, with a gas station smack dab in the middle. So we cool, Info Screen Bro. We cool. 

TWENTY MINUTES LATER, I arrived at Ike's school — over 10 minutes late and completely baffled by the traffic I'd just sat through. It's noon! On a Thursday! The government isn't even open! What the hell!

Ike's teacher said that another parent told her that the President Obama's motorcade was in the area. Which: Yuuuuupppp. That'll do it, all right. That'll fuck things up real good. I once sat at a traffic light while the vice president's motorcade passed through the intersection and am pretty sure I could have made it through War and Peace on audiobook in the time it took.

(For the record, any thrill you feel at the initial realization that there's somebody famous and important in one of those be-flagged cars usually wears off by be-flagged car number 17. It's more like being stuck at a railroad crossing while the world's most patriotic freight train lumbers through.)

I collected Ike and got back in the car. 

INFO SCREEN BRO: Uh. You got like, three miles until empty. Just sayin.

Since the traffic going in the opposite direction (leading back to the conveniently located gas station) had been even worse than what I'd sat in, I decided to head off in a different direction, towards a different gas station. Slightly further away from my house but totally worth it because I was gonna outsmart the...

...traffic. Oh. There's traffic over here, too. Possibly even worse traffic. Every car that had been diverted off the highway for the motorcade was now here, on this piddly little back road with poorly-timed traffic lights that let all of three cars through at a time because that's how many cars usually drive on this piddly little road.

(This is when it finally occurred to me to like, turn on the stupid radio and find out what was going on, and I was promptly informed that I'd basically just driven even CLOSER to the source of the motorcase clusterfuck.)

(Also, let me interrupt my own disjointed story here and add the background detail that I had Ceiba with me in the car as well, because she loves car rides. And I love startling other drivers at red lights when they look over and see a bat-eared pointy-faced hamster staring back at them like HI HI HI COME NEAR THIS CAR AND I WILL DESTROY YOU HI HI.)


Now, since my life is nothing more than an endless repeating loop of easily-avoidable catastrophes, I should point out that this has happened to me before. Once, in a snowstorm, during which I 1) blindly followed my GPS to a completely non-existent gas station, and then 2) drove to a different gas station only to discover that I'd left my wallet at home. 

This time I did have my wallet. (You know I checked for that shit in a terrible burst of deja vu.) And oh, thank the sweet baby flying spaghetti monster, there's the gas station. Now hopefully there isn't a line for the pumps and...


...uh, where the fuck did the gas station go?

The gas station was gone. Like, it had been there, I swear, up until fairly recently, and I wasn't just basing this belief on that lying bitchass of a GPS. The gas station was fenced off, boarded up, and the pumps had been freshly replaced by GIANT GAPING HOLES IN THE GROUND.

I pulled into a parking space and turned the car off. After engaging in some very vigorous lip-chewing I decided to call my husband, even though I'm not really sure what I expected him to do. Give me a pep talk? Reveal that the minivan came with some hidden double-secret probation extra gas tank that was totally full so I would be fine? Rush out of work and show up at the parking lot with a heroic gallon of gas? (Ooh, yes! That one!) 

Either way, I only got his voicemail. I was on my own. IT WAS UP TO ME TO ADULT.


INFO SCREEN BRO: I can't even with you. I'm out. 

CEIBA: Iz hot. Plz put windows down so I can stick head out and freak out normals.

The only other gas station that was even remotely reachable was the OG station, the one I'd purposely decided to avoid in the first place. It was just over a mile away, and of course I had to assume there would be still more gridlock. I knew there was a buffer zone once the info screen counted down to zero, but I had no idea how MUCH of a buffer zone there was. A mile? Five miles? LET'S ALL FIND OUT IN TODAY'S EXPERIMENT IN TERROR.

I decided that I could shave some distance off if I cut through a shopping center's parking lot. I shrieked OH COME ONNNNNN to other drivers who had the gall to like, drive in front of me and pull into parking spaces. I also didn't realize the other side of the parking lot had a confusing one-way entrance and okay, this is hard to explain but I got stuck turning left when I wanted to go right and I had to drive around BACK of this whole big shopping center in the opposite direction and that's when I let out a frenzied hysterical shriek because WHY ARE MY COPING SKILLS SUCH GARBAGE?

IKE: What wrong, Mama? 

MAMA: Nothing, baby! *slams on brakes to avoid striking elderly pedestrian* Just the whole universe conspiring against me, as usual! 

CEIBA*falls off seat*


I made it to the gas station! And there was no traffic! No traffic at all! So I basically made everything 10 times worse for myself by not just driving back the direct route in the first place! THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T TRY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, KIDS. 




Oh man. I love you.


This is like my wife's actual worst nightmare. Her knuckles go white on the steering wheel if the light even comes on saying the fuel is low.

It did make me lol though x


I laughed but I also feel your pain. I DID run out of gas in DC once. I drove all over the city on a Sunday with friends, to and from lunch/drinks/etc, completely ignoring the fact that I had less than a quarter tank of gas. I made it half a block on the way to work the next morning before running out. Luckily there was a gas station a few blocks away. I'm just glad I didn't run out while on 66 on the way to work. That would have been an epic fail on my part. BUT, in my defense I was 22 - young and stupid.


I have the same car (2006 model) and I swear the buffer is at least one gallon if not more.

Anyway, to calculate the buffer, check your manual for the tank size (mine is 19 gallons) and the next time the computer is close to zero, refill your tank to the top and take note of how much gas you put in there. Subtract it from the tank size, and voila: buffer size. Multiply by your mpg and you get how many miles you have before you really are stranded by the side of the road. How hard is that?


It's a slow day at work with no customers and you just MADE MY DAY. So funny!


I dunno about your car, but in my car when the screen tells me 0 miles to empty that means there is 1 gallon of gas. YMMV. Since I'm an a-hole self-satisfied Prius driver, I routinely commute the 20 miles home from work after the 0 miles thing pops up. And then when I fill the tank it still only takes 9.5 gallons (10 gallon tank, so, not really empty). ANYWAY: how many gallons did you put in the car today / how many does your tank hold? If the difference between those two is essentially 0, then trust the infographic. If it's not, the infographic is trying to make you panic! Ignore it!
(except this is actually obviously terrible advice)


I lit'rally laughed out loud at "world's most patriotic freight train." Haaaaa.


My 20yo Volvo hasn't had a functioning gas gauge in about 5 years. So, I just wait until I've gone about 250miles, then fill it up. On occasion, the "empty" light will come on, and if I'm over the 250miles on my trip odometer, I panic, because I have NO idea how much gas I really have left. Sometimes I fill it and I'm about 0.5gallons from my stated capacity, other times I'm several gallons to empty. Yay! Stressful!


Once, when I was in Russia, I saw Putin's limo go by. It was kind of cool. I tell people I once saw Putin!


I laughed at most of this, but most especially Ceiba falling off the seat because I have a Chihuahua who also adores car rides but isn't that good at gauging speed or stoppage.


Yay! You made it! (The bright side: as of Tuesday, our state police can pull you over and fine you for using your phone while driving, without any other reason - so at least you didn't get a ticket for the Instagramming in the midst of the crazy.)


My DH's truck has a magic gauge. You fill it up it shows filled up then you drive 50ft and it drops to half a tank then to 1/4 of a tank then back up to half. It sucks. In my big truck I had gone below the red line and in the big truck if you go below the red line and you accidently push hard on the gas pedal you're out of gas. As I pulled into the station the truck cut off and I coasted into the pump. The other time I tried to do that..not so lucky 2+ miles from home in the desert. Learned my lesson though (oh and this was precell phones).


Oh wow, I had a low-gas experience this week too, exacerbated by being Minnesotan (polite and 'thrifty'). My car had dinged low fuel at me Friday on the way to work, but I didn't have time to stop on the way home. We were out of town the whole weekend and then I was running late Monday morning. Monday evening I needed to do some shopping, so I set out to get some gas first with baby in tow. The closest station was 8 cents more than the local low price, and like hell I was gonna pay that. So I headed off down the road to a pair of stations that run cheaper. I was in the left lane because the one on that side had a carwash, but it also was high! I couldn't get over in time without cutting someone off, so I tried to turn around in one of those twisty neighborhoods that only have one outlet (too polite to just pull into someone's driveway). I FINALLY got to the gas station and ran out of gas as I was pulling up to the pump. I looked up to find the gas station across the street (the one with the carwash) had lowered its price since I'd driven by. Mother-effer! And to top it off, as I was pulling away I noticed I'd left the gas cap off, something I've never done before! At least the baby doesn't understand cursing yet.


I've never seen that light, I just can't. When it gets down to a 1/4 tank, it's time to get more.


I also audibly laughed at the freight train comment. It's true. We have a presidential museum in my town and for SOME REASON I HAVE YET TO UNDERSTAND, we regularly get presidential-style barricades and traffic come through it. It'd be kind of cool except they stuck this in the heart of my "Everywhere I go" route. And again, not sure why people still regularly bring Important People with Secret Service Detail through here since this particular resident has been dead a while.

Jenny H.

I'm going to apologize for this right off the bat. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. And woke up my kids. My tummy hurts from the laughing.

Now I will admit to maybe having done the same exact thing. Once or five times. When my gas light comes on? You can drive exactly 43 miles before you run out of gas. Or so I've been told.


Oh my god you flipping crack me up! I often read parts of your posts to my husband because it would not be fair to not share your posts with him. Seriously, info screen bro?!?!! Thank you for your awesome hilarious writing


THIS is exactly why your blog is the best blog. Ever. Your "endless loop of easily avoidable catastrophes" makes my day. Thank you.

Cait B.

Thank you so much for making me laugh today. You ligitamitly have NO IDEA how much I needed a good laugh.

(Also completely something I have done, except I don't call DH because then I get "the lecture" the man may not be a father yet but man does he have, "I'm not upset, I'm just disappointed down" )

Cait B.

and by whatever i just spelled, I mean legitimately


So....yeah....last week, I came coasting into our garage with 3 miles to empty. Next morning, rather than filling up the car, I borrowed my brother-in-law's car. Which he'd left at our house while out of town for a week. I drove it for 2 days. Then finally filled up my car.



I don't adult well. No. No, I don't. I'm glad you made but I must admit that I'm tired of gas stations disappearing, especially ones I may not have used regularly but at least NOTICED were still erect. Oh, and the gif. Says it all.


GOD, perfect use of that expression/gif. I'm almost jealous that you went through that epic chain of events, just to have such an appropriate reason to post it.

We (total leftie liberals) use THANKS, OBAMA! All the time in our house. I think it has our new German au pair thoroughly confused...


Such a great post! Can totally relate to having garbage coping skills and being utterly unable to adult. Best new verb, btw.


I just love your blog so dern much, but the fact that you referenced the Flying Spagetti Monster pushed things to a whole new i want to have your blogs' babies level. Had to post my first comment in honor!


I know that screen. I have that picture. I play chicken with the Sienna miles until empty all the time but have yet to actually run out. Our worst we were 28 miles from gas with 7 left late at night in the middle of winter in nowhere New Mexico with a baby and a preschooler onboard, our 9 year old waiting to get picked up from a party, and no cell reception. The only reason we think we made it was that it was still new enough to not really have a good average. Good times! I can send you my picture if it makes you feel any better. It was 32 out...


So, big question: is the precise information about number of miles left helping or not? Like if you had just gotten the Red Light of Doom sometime the day before would you have filled the tank sooner?

I don't know why they messed with the Red Light of Doom because the Red Light of Doom means FILL UP NOW! NNOOOOOWWW!, which I understand, while the passive-aggressive "are you SURE you have enough gas to get where you're going? Really? You're sure about those distances?" countdown method may be polite, but seriously prolongs the anxiety period.


I love my mom for running out of gas right in front of my uncle, just as he was headed to her place with his girlfriend. They live in different cities. He then proceeded to give me a lift to the theater, using a wire hanger to open his car. He helped her with gas in disbelief and they had their meeting right where the girlfriend lived.


Having experienced both the most patriotic train ever and almost running out of gas, I laughed...hard.

Driving to the Outer Banks from Delaware for Spring Break this past spring, I realized I had 40 miles of gas left right before I got on the Bay Bridge and Tunnel. I had that conversation while waiting for the light to let me into the Wawa on the other side. Talk about white knuckling!


I have a Sienna and I promise you I have driven up to 10 miles on 0. Zero. It makes my husband insane. My life is boring, I need to spice it up where I can.

Margaret Trietsch

Get the Waze app. Seriously. It will change your life.


Hilarious. But seriously note...I don't wanna ever see that light, that'll be a nightmare.

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