06 November 2009

Finding Fuel between Torino & Canell

As the title of this post suggests, we had a bit of a scare last night. Sadly, this is a scare that we tend to challenge ourselves with on an annual basis. Last time it happened we were travelling north towards the Gotthard tunnel when the low petrol indicator came on and there were no re-fuelling stops for 30 kilometres. If I want to be entirely honest, I've been running out of petrol since I got my licence. Just ask Dad.

So last night, we had travelled to Torino to collect an Aussie friend from the railway station.

On the way back, at about 10.30pm, the car was bubbling along to the joyful noises of shared memories and new stories.

So it was easy to understand how we could forget to look at the petrol gauge until a certain little yellow indicator was flashing.

'How long has that been on?', I asked Stu.

'Not long. It just came on', he replied. I looked across at him. He was biting his nails. I suspected the light had been on for longer than was suggested in the Suzuki owners manual.

Conversation in the car dried up. We became 3 people living their individual fears of being stranded on a highway with a dehydrated vehicle. Although we weren't to find out until after the trauma had passed, each had decided on a separate course of action that should be taken were our car to choke, tremble and dwindle to a stop before we came upon a petrol station. Maria had decided to walk to the closest farm and knock on their door, Stu had decided to walk 50km to Canelli, collect his HD and ride it (illegally) back to collect us one by one. I had decided to sit on the side of the road and cry. Maria was practical, Stu was illegal, I was tragic. Typical.

After about 25km we knew we were getting desperate when suddenly the warm and welcoming lights of a servo appeared in the distance just off the highway. Stu made a sudden exit and we soon found ourselves parked at a fuel pump.

Conversation bubbled again as we piled out of the car armed with our wallets and our intelligence. The place was unmanned but we lived in hope of technology allowing us to do something 'automatic'.

We stood at the machine, fumbled with the place where you insert money, poked at the place where you insert plastic cards, then pushed another few buttons, grasped the pump and squeezed the trigger. Niente. We read the instructions and tried again. Niente.

We were starting to become morbid again when a car pulled up. A small dented farm vehicle. It contained a middle aged man who looked like he'd worked for too many years. We asked him for help. He took our EUR 20 and pushed it into the machine. The machine spat it out. He did it again. It spat it out. He took out his own wallet and pushed his own EUR 20 in the machine. The machine spat it out. He did it again. It swallowed.

After a few other tweaks of the pump and the trigger, we could hear the pump build pressure as the fuel line filled.

Relief would be an understatement.

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