What Would You Do?

To: Luke
From: Owen
Re: Meet the Elements Stuck in My Brain

Getting back from Texas on Wednesday after midnight, I remembered that my car had about a spit's worth of gas in the tank, and I was still 120 miles from home. And in Oregon, by law you cannot pump your own gas. Period. I started panicking that gas stations might shut down at midnight and I'd be stranded at the Portland airport, or on the highway somewhere, waiting for a station to open at dawn.

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Fortunately, there are plenty of 24-hour gas stops beside the Interstate out in civilization here. I probably wouldn't push my luck too far east of the Cascades past 11 p.m., though. But it reminded me of another gas panic attack I had while driving down to the Bay Area two weeks back.

I'd gotten two hours south on I-5, close to the middle of nowhere, and nearly run out the tank. I reached over to my backpack side pocket for my wallet. Not there. I unzipped the front pouch. Not there either. I patted myself like I was covered in small fires. Not there, there, or there. Holy crap, did I leave my wallet at home? No cash, no credit cards, no nothing, 140 miles south of home, no way to turn around and get my wallet. I had my cell phone but that was it.

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Fortunately, I'd just forgotten that I put my wallet in the center console hatch. But it got me to wondering: What would I do to get out of that jam? Beg? Try to call a friend and have her drive my wallet to me? Try to get money wired somehow? Plead with the gas station owner? It's alarming to think that, in a modern society as connected as ours, there is still the possibility that a simple-minded mistake could get you stranded somewhere, like a bad movie of the week. What would you do?

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