I’ll confess that in the past when I’ve heard people tell stories about running out of gas, I never really got it. Run out of gas? How does that happen? Just keep an eye on the fuel gauge and fill up when you’re at a quarter tank. It’s EASY…right?

Well, this past week when I was driving back to Michigan after a week-long tour with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, it almost happened to me.

There I am, in The Middle of Nowhere, PA, driving my rental car, when suddenly the gas light comes on.

“Gosh,” I think to myself. “I somehow missed that I was even getting low.”

I scan my dashboard to see if there’s a meter telling me how many miles I have left. There is, and I’ve got thirty. I breathe a sigh of relief. Surely I’ll be able to find a gas station in the next thirty miles. Surely.

So I’m driving along, driving along, driving along. Looking for an exit. Not seeing one. I check the mile meter again. It’s now at 18 miles. I’m getting slightly nervous. I decide to open Google Maps on my phone to see where the next gas station is. I find it, and it’s 16 miles away.

“16 miles?!?!” I scream in my head. “That’s a little close for comfort.”

I look again on Google Maps to see if there’s a gas station behind me. There is, four miles behind me, but it’s still going to take me the same mileage to get there because the next exit isn’t for another six miles.

At this point, I’m weighing my options in my head. Drive straight onward and hope to make it? If I run out of gas, it’ll probably take me at least a few hours to get towed to the nearest gas station, and I have another three hours of driving ahead of me to get back home. I don’t like that option. But what else can I do?

Then, I spot about a mile ahead of me a cross-median between the two roads on the freeway. I could slow down and turn around. I don’t know what the fine is for using the cross-median illegally but I’m guessing it’s a far cry from a $100 speeding ticket.

Thinking, thinking, thinking.

And then suddenly, I make a decision.

There are no cars behind me so I slam on the brakes and just barely turn sharply enough to make it into the cross-median. I drive across the median and look at the oncoming traffic.

It appears to stretch on for an eternity.

There I sit, waiting for a break in the traffic. I turn the car off to save gas. I think to myself, “If a cop sees me here I’m completely screwed.”

But then, after a semi truck, I spot somewhat of a break in the traffic. I’ve got to make a go for it. As soon as the semi-truck passes, I floor that Hyundai Elantra and make it back into the traffic.

I arrive at the gas station with eight miles to spare.

I happily fill up my tank, and when I go inside to buy a soda, I tell the cashier lady “I almost didn’t make it here.” She just gives me a look that says “I’ve seen it a million times.”

What I found most interesting about this experience was the speed at which I surveyed my options and then made a choice. Even if that choice wasn’t entirely comfortable, I made it anyway because it had to be made. We should all have faith in ourselves that when the unexpected predicament arises, we’ll know what to do. We’ll survey our options, and we’ll make a choice.

Have you had an experience where you had a make a quick decision? What is the right one?

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