“Cash or charge?”

March 13, 2009

firestonegaspump2It’s a good thing we don’t always have to explain our behavior. If we did, I’d have to invoke temporary insanity or on-set senility to account for myself last night. When I left home to drive to Passaic, I thought there was barely enough gas in the Beetle to make the round trip. I pass two gas stations within the first mile and a tenth from home, but I didn’t stop. Before I got to the college – actually, it was during that stop-and-go traffic jam at the junction of Routes 46 and 3 – I already knew there wasn’t enough gas left to make it back to Whitehouse Station. I don’t know how many gas stations I pass on Routes 3 and 46 on the return leg, but I passed by that number, whatever it is. Once I got on Interstate 80 in Wayne, I knew my options would be limited. But I got on. As I headed south on I-287, I passed by chances to buy gas on Route 10 and again in Morristown. Somewhere south of Morristown, the warning light went on on the gas gauge. The needle was nudging the “E” when I saw what I knew was the sign for the Last Resort, an all-night Exxon station that is three miles from the highway. I did a lot of coasting, and gratefully paid $1.99 a gallon – cheap under the circumstances. Did I enjoy myself? Sure – I love white knuckles. Still, I realize that I didn’t measure up to the standard set by Kramer and Rick, the car salesman. Unlike them, I’ll never know how far I could have gone if I hadn’t done the sensible thing, the boring, ordinary thing. Even when Cosmo and Rick had safely reached the dealership – and had not yet plunged on toward The Ultimate – Rick said, “I learned a lot. Things are gonna be different for me now.” For me, I guess, they’ll always be the same.


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