February 21, 2014 at 10:21 am

Fun trip with friends ends on empty

There’s nothing like a little embarrassment and humiliation to spice up a road trip with the guys.

For the first time in my driving career, I ran out of gas. Correction: The buddy driving my Ford Explorer ran out of fuel while I nodded off in the seat next to him.

For the last 10 years or so I, along with two of my addled best friends from high school, have traveled to beautiful Glen Arbor for the town’s annual outdoor chili cook off contest.

We arrived on Friday night and checked into a Woody’s Lodge on Glen Lake, complete with a great view and a fireplace.

The contest was on Saturday, and for 10 bucks, you get to sample — and then vote on — about 20 different kinds of chili on an outdoor deck dotted with crackling fire pits for warmth.

After we each gassed up on about a quart of chili, we returned to the lodge where, for safety’s sake, we avoided getting anywhere near the fireplace.

On Sunday afternoon, it was time to return to our homes in the metro area. My buddy asked to drive, and I agreed. About two hours into the journey, he casually mentioned we were running low on gas.

“OK, pull off at an exit and we’ll fill up,” I said.

“Any particular station?” he asked.

“Nope, any station will do,” and then I drifted back to my nap.

About 30 minutes later, I was roused by a weird vibration running through the SUV. It was from passing over rumble strips on the shoulder of I-75.

I asked my buddy why he was pulling over.

“We’re out of gas,” he said.

“What ...what do you mean we’re out of gas? How can we be out of gas? ”

“I didn’t stop to fill up the tank.”


“Why not?”

“Well, when the needle on the fuel gauge got down to ‘E’ I didn’t really think it meant the tank was empty.”


“So instead of pulling off to fill up, you just drove until the car just stopped? What did you think that E stood for, ‘eventually?’”

So there we were, stuck on southbound I-75 just south of the Bridgeport exit in 11-degree weather as thousands of vehicles roared by just a few feet away. Nonplussed, my other pal whipped out his cellphone and called AAA of Michigan for road service.

The nice operator said it would take about an hour for a truck to arrive with a few gallons of gasoline.

The last question she asked was for my license plate number.

She burst into giggles when I told her it was a personalized plate that reads “NOWRRIES.”

The plate is up for renewal next month.

Maybe I should get a new one that says “NOBRAINS.”

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