A Day in the Life

Back when I was about 21 years old, living in Stockton, I had a little red VW bug that I named “Jelly”.  Jelly, by the way, was my nickname in High School for about 15 minutes when my best friend turned from another girl, Kelly, to say something to me, Julie, and it came out, “Jelly”.  Thankfully, it didn’t stick.  But anyway, it did stick for my car.  Jelly was a great little car, Candy Apple Red, with a home installed rag top.  She was a 1966, the same age as me (I was born the last day of ’65, but they make the ’66 cars in ’65 mostly, right?), and she was my first car.  Great car in many ways…fun to drive around on a hot summer night with the top off, fun to have the freedom of my own car, all of that.  At some point, however, Jelly’s fuel gauge gave up the ghost, and from then on, I never knew how much gas I had.  I don’t know if that had anything to do with the wiring problems that occurred after someone ripped the stereo out of Jelly’s dashboard (had to reach through where the stereo would have been to pull a switch to activate the windshield wipers, for example), or if it was a symptom of something else, but one thing I learned was not to take it for granted that Jelly had gas, and to fill up every few days.  The tank was very small on Jelly, and it usually took about $5 to fill her up, with Regular Leaded gasoline being $1 a gallon.

This was the same time of my life when I was attending Delta College, the local Jr. College in the area.  I had a group of friends there, some of whom I’m still friends with today, while others have moved on.  We had a great time, though we were all serious about our studies, serious about getting our pre-reqs out of the way, and moving on to a four year college.  We weren’t like those students you hear about who waste space by attending classes long enough to ensure that their insurance is covered, and then bail.  But we weren’t as serious as the ‘adult’ students either.  In every class, there were one or two ‘adult’ students (I put adult in quotes, because we were technically adults as well, but these folks were older, like 30s, 40s, and on up), people who were working on getting a degree later in life, or maybe following a passion, increasing their skills, etc.  One such ‘adult’ was Tim, a man in my French class.  He was probably about 30 or so, very serious, very good student.  I knew who he was, he knew who I was, but we never talked or anything, weren’t friends so much as acquaintances.

One day, I misjudged things, and Jelly ran out of gas.  I don’t know if that has ever happened to you, but one minute things are going along swimmingly, and the next, the car won’t move.  Just dead in the water, as they say.  Happily, I was right across the intersection from a gas station.  Yay!  And, VW bugs aren’t very heavy.  So, I ran across the street to ask the attendent at the filling station if he would help me push Jelly across to fill up.  Hey, I even had $5 in my pocket.  We waited for the green light, and then we started pushing.  I had my hand on the steering wheel, the other hand on the open door of the car, and I’m pushing and steering.  There is the slightest little incline that you ever saw, and all is well, until that slight incline becomes a slight decline, and we get a bit of momentum, and Jelly starts going a bit faster…and I trip.  So now, here I am, one hand on the door, the other on the wheel, dragging across the intersection, trying to get my feet back under me, alas, with no luck.  As I’m dragging along, I can feel the heat from the friction of the road burning through the leather of my new shoes, and the car is being pulled away from the lane I was aiming for, into the oncoming traffic lane.  Not to worry, there is no traffic at this point, as everything is pretty much moving in SLOW MOTION, and everyone is just watching to see what will happen.

What did happen was Jelly was stopped in her tracks when she ran into another car.  A huge, 1960s era Buick or something.  A car made out of brick or something, as my speeding car hurling through the intersection at about 5 mph did absolutely no damage.  I got my feet under me again, stood up, and looked at the driver of the tank, expecting a very angry driver to jump out and yell at me, looking for scratches and taking insurance information.  Instead I looked up, and there was Tim from French class, who very calmly said, “Do you need help, Julie?”  To which I very calmly answered, “No, why do you ask?” (OK, I only WISH I had said that…but I did say, “No, I’m fine, thank you”)  I filled up my tank at the filling station, and went on my way, and everything was fine except for my shoes…which had holes torn in the tops from the friction.  When I explained to the man at the shoe store that I had merely fallen down and this had happened, he was horrified, but still, he exchanged them for me and gave me another pair. 😉

(Wendy, somehow, your bee story awhile ago made me remember this, being drug in slow motion through an intersection, and my brother later saying, “That could only happen to you, J”)

This entry was posted in Musings.

14 thoughts on “A Day in the Life

  1. What a great story! I’m still smiling. It’s a good thing you ran into “Adult” French class guy instead of some raving lunatic.

  2. I’m smiling here. Don’t you love it when stupid things work out okay?

    My first car, Chester, was a Pontiac Sunbird with a fuel gage that didn’t work at all. I had to keep a pen and pad of paper in the car, and record the mileage and the quantity of fuel I put in the car at each fill-up. If I did the math right and guessed my mpg correctly, I didn’t run out of gas. But if I didn’t … 🙁

  3. OMG..Okay I shouldn’t laugh but that was funny – and something I would TOTALLY do…loved this story – the look on Tim’s face must have been priceless…

  4. I tried not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it!

    For some reason, I have never named any of my cars. Jelly is a cute name for a Bug!

  5. Funny story! I love it.
    I wish I had cute picture of my first car. Big ol’ Chevy Caprice station wagon, olive green. The only picture I have of it is after I wrapped it around a tree. I was on my way home from baking cookies at a friend’s house, and in the picture you can see cookies strewn about the grass. And my shoe.

  6. I am glad you were not hurt. This story reminds me of my blue Chevy pickup. My gas gauge is broken as is my odometer. The only way to tell if gas is in the tank is to listen to the sending unit banging around in the tank behind the seat. If it stops banging, it is time to find a gas station, fast. Needless to say, I’ve run out of gas many times.

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