Did you know that you shouldn’t put diesel fuel into cars that use unleaded gasoline?
I certainly knew that on some level, but somehow I added 15 gallons of diesel to a 20 gallon unleaded fuel tank. After asking a few questions, I realized that if I started our Chevrolet Tahoe with the diesel fuel, I would quickly end up with a useless engine.
My wife, I, and two dogs were about 100 miles into a 200 mile trip and for a little while it looked like we might be stranded. I wondered what could possibly cause me to make such a mistake, but didn’t have an answer.
After a few phone calls we had the car towed to Boyd Cars in South Hill, VA. Thankfully, experienced and friendly people like Kevin and Chad at Boyd Cars, drained the gas, flushed the lines and the tank, and we were on our way after about an hour or so.
That was enough excitement for me for one day, but we had another adventure ahead of us.
When we were about 15 minutes from our destination, traveling about 55 MPH on winding Virginia highway 501, I noticed a girl off to the side. She wasn’t in the road or even on the shoulder but she was moving. She was about 13 or 14 years old with long blond hair and wearing a bright blue top.
For a second, it looked as if she was ready to dart into the street and instinctively, I took my foot off the gas and put it over the brake.
I remember thinking “she’s not going to run in front of me.”
And then she did.
Time slowed. I jammed on the brake. My body lifted off the seat as I stood on the brake with all my weight trying to stop our SUV.
I watched her in slow motion as she moved in front of us.
The tires squealed getting her attention. I remember seeing the fear in her eyes as she realized the danger she was in and it was then that I really noticed her blond hair and likely age. She hesitated as if she was going to return to safety off the road.
And then she changed her mind and continued her original run across the street.
Thankfully, there weren’t any cars coming the other way and she made it.
I guided our vehicle to the side of the road to catch my breath. In the rear-view mirror, I saw the driver behind me looking at me like I was crazy as smoke from the burning rubber from both our cars rose lingered behind us. I saw his passenger frantically pointing toward where the girl had run and they both looked that way.
I looked over and saw her disappear between some trees. Running. She was safe.
After a moment, I slowly guided our vehicle back onto the road and the rest of the weekend was uneventful.
But I wondered. Is it possible these two events were connected?
This winding road is known for fast drivers but after recently getting a speeding ticket, I was watching the speed limit carefully. I was able to stop, but another driver going just a little quicker or distracted for just a moment might not have been able to stop in time. Is it possible we were delayed so that we could stop in time?
Maybe another car wouldn’t have been close today, but it might be tomorrow or another day. Perhaps, this girl will recognized this close all and will use it as a simple but valuable lesson. Look both ways before crossing any street.
Of course these events might not be connected at all. Still, I do know that this weekend included an important lesson for me.
Look twice before filling my car with gas. Especially when one of the nozzles is for diesel fuel.