The price of gas as of today is $3.23 a gallon--for regular! That's not a complaint, really, just a statement of fact. Such high gas prices--and they have been this high for months now--really strain an already tight budget. My budget. And so it frequently happens that after I have paid my bills and await my next paycheck (which might not come for two weeks) I am conserving every penny to pay for basic expenses like gas and food--which means trying to stretch the gas, and the food. It means eating cereal for breakfast a lot, and waitinng until the last minute to put any gas in the car.
I can't say about the cereal--it claims to lower cholesterol--but I know that running on empty is not good for the car. Now I really know that. (Another lesson I had to learn the hard way.)
Anyway, just last night I was driving to the masjid to see a lecture after maghrib by Sheikh Muhammad Salah from HUDA TV who was visiting town this week. On my way, I get stopped at a stoplight--I usually get stopped there, since it's the side street to a main intersection--which happens to be on an upward incline. And when the light turns green, as I try to accelerate through the intersection, the car stalls out.
So I try to turn it on again and give it another go and... it stalls out again. Turning on my flashers I try to gesture to the drivers behind me to go around. (There was ample space to do so, so I did not clog traffic or anything--alhamdulillah!) As I sit there trying to figure what I should do, I do the thing that most girls probably do in such a situation--call my dad.
But about that time, my friend drives past--alhamdulillah! She was on her way to the same lecture. Of course now it's maghrib time and the sun has set and it's getting dark out. At first she didn't see and was in a hurry but called me a minute later to see if that had been me. Alhamdulillah. I tell her the problem, I know that I'm out of gas, so she goes to a nearby gas station (there were plenty around, alhamdulillah!) and gets a container and a gallon to bring me.
She pulled up behind my car (which was still in the intersection) and we poured the gasoline into the tank and I tried to start it again. It would start, but only stall out again a second later--and did so after a few more attempts.
By then some police officers had arrived alhamdulillah, and they helped me move the car back (basically let it roll down the hill) to ground that was a little more level, but by then the car wouldn't start at all. So we moved the car onto the grass--off the road entirely. They told me that maybe I had "flooded the engine" and needed to let it wait a little while before trying to start it again--half an hour, or an hour, they said.
I didn't know what flooding the engine meant--so I asked. And the officer told me he didn't really know either. But he told me it was like a paper towel, and if you pour water on a paper towel it gets soaked and you can't use it, but if you let it dry out then you can use the paper towel again. I'm still not seeing how a car engine is like a paper towel... if someone can explain that better please try...
Anyway, my friend and I left the car there in the grass and went to the lecture (which we were now kind of late for, but still happy to attend, it was a nice lecture alhamdulillah) We prayed 'isha there at the masjid too and the talk went slightly after that, followed by another brother making an announcement, and we stayed around even later to talk to another sister about some masjid business. By then it is around 10:00pm, around 2 hours after we had left the car on the curb.
So we go back and try to start it--and it won't start. It wouldn't catch, is what I mean. So we tried getting another gallon of gas to put in it. And still it wouldn't start. So she took me home. Despite being a typically busy intersection (during the day) it's not in the best part of town, and I didn't know how long a tow truck would take to get there--and it already being so late, I didn't want to stay there with the car.
I called a tow truck the next day--today--and began making my way towards the car. At that time, I figured the filter or pump had been ruined by trying to restart the car and that it would need to be repaired. There is a AAA Car Center in walking distance to my house so I was going to have it towed there. But seeing as how I was putting off even getting more gas, paying for repairs on my car was obviously not in my budget. Not that there was anything I could do about it--at such times the only thing to do is try to be patient, and trust in Allah. And alhamdulillah.
So to get to my car, I planned to take the bus. Unfortunately, the bus that I got on, the one that comes closest to my apartment (I had to walk to get to the stop) was not the same that went past my car--which was my mistake. So I stayed on it at the time when I needed to switch from one route to another to stay on the same street. (There was another route that went right past my car!) But by the time I realized it it was too late. So I got off the bus on campus, and basically started walking towards the car. I had to beat the tow truck and didn't have all day to get there. All the buses go the opposite direction that I was so I thought walking straight there would be faster than catching another bus and riding the whole route for 30 minutes or more to get to that stop where my car was.
So I walked. I tend to be kind of lazy, and not walk places unless I have to. So as far as I had to walk, that's a serious thing for me. But alhamdulillah, it only took me about 20 minutes to get there, and the tow truck hadn't arrived yet. At this point, I check to see if anyone had broken into the car. Already my back two windows are being held up by duct tape because they're broken (another problem I can't yet afford to fix).
In fact, even though they've been broken a while I haven't had anyone break in to my car. I of course don't keep anything valuable in it because it is so easy to break in to now, but simple things like a blanket, books--these things I have had stolen out of my car in the past, but alhamdulillah, everything in my car was as I had left it. And since I figure it can't do any harm--if the car is already broken--I try to start the car again.
So I got to call off the tow truck, drive to put in even more gas, and come straight home. Alhamdulillah.