I met some cool peeps* and they invited me to have dinner with them at some pizza joint in Franklin. I left dinner that night thinking that the most unexpected, eventful part of my day had just taken place.
I was wrong.
A rudimentary gas station stop morphed into an experiential and notable adventure that night.
*I did things a little in reverse, so this post comes first, but here’s the blog on the non-mean peeps.
I needed gas! How did I forget that I needed gas? Again!? This happened more often than it really should. I think it’s because a trip to the gas station is one of my least favorite chores.
Fortunately, my car as this nice little feature where it lets you know how many more miles you have left to go, based on how much gas is left in the tank. After you hit the 30 mile marker, the amount of miles changes from a number to a brightly-flashing LO. I was LO on gas, so low that not even a W could be afforded to be added to the warning. When I fill up, it never lets me know that my tank is HI. The negativity and choosiness of my dashboard alert system now annoyed me, in addition to the self-inflicted annoyance of not being prepared and filling up earlier, thus prompting the obnoxious light to scream at me, making sure that I knew that it knew I was a failure.
“If you don’t make it to the gas station, at least you have AAA. And Franklin is safe. It’s basically Irvine with more trees and less lighting. You’ll be fine.” – Me, over and over again to myself as I drove down the poorly-lit streets of Franklin.
As I approached the freeway entrance intersection, I spotted a gas station but I was separated from it by a double-yellow. In Nashville (and its neighboring towns), people cross over double-yellows all the time. So much, in fact, that I looked up the law in the DMV manual because it seemed to be okay to do so, even in front of cops! The manual says you can’t, but so far I’m the only one who follows the law, and in this extreme situation, I decided to follow suit and do as the Nashvillians do, be a rebel, and cross over the unenforced, painted line barrier. Unlike Kramer, I didn’t feel like taking any chances.
“Thank God! I found a place!” – Me, audibly, as I no longer had to worry about being stranded on a dark, desolate strip of road.
I pulled in to one side of the gas station (the setup was where there are two sets of pumps divided by the mini mart in the center) and the lights went out. It was 9:47pm! Did they close at 9:30? 10? What was this 9:47 business? Would two more open minutes to make $20 be so bad? I got back in my car, ready to hit the road again, and saw the other pump side was still lit, and there was a customer pumping gas. I zipped in parallel to a pump and rushed to swipe my credit card before they decided to close down this other side as well.
As I was pumping gas, the lights went out on me and my pump shut off.
I guess I didn’t need to finish filling up? They didn’t want my money? I didn’t need a receipt? I didn’t need to be able to see as I pulled the nozzle out of my car, mid-pump, so as to not accidentally drip gas across my Rainbows? I thought I was in the South where people have to be nice to you, near the Friendliest City in America. So much for having friends in LO places. At least I had enough oomph in the tank now to get me home, and more urgently, to a bathroom.
I needed to pee. Real bad. Serves me right for downing multiple glasses of water throughout the day! Everything can be made exponentially worse when your bladder decides it no longer wants to be a strong grown-up team player, but instead, a whiny baby that will cause you problems if you don’t give into its demand immediately (that demand being relief).
“Hang in there! I’m trying to find a bathroom!” – Me, to my bladder, like a crazy person.
Lord knows there wasn’t any place for me to go at this hour, in the land where gas stations shut off their lights and pumps at 9:47pm (I wonder if they sell “9:47 is the new 10:00” shirts inside the store. I guess I’ll never know because I’m never going back to that Shell again). I tried the Arby’s across the way as their store and parking lot looked extremely well-lit and had cars in the driveway. The doors were locked. I guess the latter part of the 9 o-clock hour is when town shuts down in Franklin, right alongside my engine and my own ability to keep-holdin’-it-in will power.
I had struck out twice and feared my third attempt; my poor body could not take the HI of knowing a possible restroom was found, only to be brought back down to a LO of a no-go fake-out. And then, I spotted a Kroger. Most of the entrances were blocked off but I found one set of doors that still opened with my Jedi wave. I set a personal pace record as I sprinted from the store entryway to the restroom stall itself. There were no seat covers – not that this was a surprise, as discussed in another post – and there was no time for arts and crafts! I was just happy to have found someplace that wasn’t in the bushes.
So there’s my gasoline-bathroom story. It isn’t the best but there you go. The end.