Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mandy does Dallas... but not the way Debbie did it

Last night, I got a call from my dear friend Brittany, with whom I went to high school and college. She was in Dallas just for the night on a business trip (aren’t we grown up?) She’s now living in Houston, which is not as close to Dallas as I would like.

Even though I had, in fact, scarfed down half of a cold bacon cheeseburger (leftover from my lunch) in the car on the way home from work [rationalization for that: I had to stop by the grocery store on the way home and you should never shop hungry!], when she asked me to meet her for dinner in Dallas, I jumped at the opportunity to visit with her (and, well, eat a second dinner).

She was staying at the big Sheraton right down town; you know, in the middle of all the big shiny buildings. Even though I live relatively close to the big shiny buildings, I rarely actually visit them. As a result, when I got downtown, even though I actually took the correct exit and made it to her building right away, I had to go around the block about four times before successfully picking her up because of the confusing one-way streets and my lack of parking confidence (Can I just pull over here beside this big building and stop? Do I have to find a parking spot? Is somebody going to hit me from behind if I stop in the middle of this lane? Do these jeans make my butt look big?)

I finally got her into the car, and because we didn’t really know where to eat in the area, we decided to go to Braums for dessert before dinner (a benefit of being a grown-up – take that, Mom), since she had been Braums-deprived since moving to College Station and Houston (there aren’t any south of Corsicana, as we found out on our adventure two years ago that made Braums special to us in the first place). Thanks to my handy-dandy GPS, we found one within four miles of the hotel and were on our merry way.

After we ate our gloriously inexpensive two scoops of ice cream and visited for an hour or two in the dingy Braums store (it’s cheap for a reason, people), we debated about where to go for “real food,” since we hadn’t really seen any restaurants in which we were all that interested on the way.

Finally, we did rock-paper-scissors to decide whether we’d just go back up to the counter and visibly irritate the teenager behind the counter again by ordering something else (it’s cheap for a reason, people), or go to a Mexican restaurant down the road that we didn’t know much about, and therefore could either be a delicious diamond in the rough or something to give us horrible food poisoning for the next several days.

I was assigned the shady Mexican restaurant in the game of rock-paper-scissors, and she was assigned Braums. After a lot of explaining that she would count to three and then say “shoot,” which is when I was supposed to “shoot,” I still did it wrong (“shot” on three) and she laughed at me. On our second attempt, I “won,” meaning that we should go to the shady Mexican place down the road for dinner. Apparently that decision made us actually decide what we really wanted, because that’s when we decided that really, we’d rather just stay here and have burger. Girls are fickle that way.

After the junior burger and small fries (Mom was right, eating ice cream before dinner really does ruin your appetite…as will a half a burger before the ice cream), we decided to head over to Starbucks for a little bit nicer (cleaner) place to visit. On the way, however, a CVS caught Brittany’s eye and she requested that we stop there and buy a hairbrush, because she had forgotten hers (I picture her looking through her bag when she arrived at her hotel room, not finding it, then breaking out in “Oh where is my hairbrush” in true Larry-the-Cucumber style, but I’m sure that’s not really what she did). Not-so-surprisingly, we are easily distracted by anything and everything, so we ended up spending a little more time there, and I found a package of bubble-wrap that I needed to wrap up and store the rest of our Christmas stuff. Score.

By the time we had finished there and got back into my car, I decided that I’d better get some gas, because the light was on and I was really hoping to actually get home later that night without breaking down (I know, I’m an over-achiever). In that spirit, I pulled in to the nearest gas station, then thought for a minute before getting out of the car.

“You know,” I said to Brittany, “it would be nice if I could find a gas station with a car wash too, since my car’s pretty filthy.”

Also wanting to kill some time while we visited with nowhere really to go, she agreed to ride along in my quest to find a gas station with a car wash. I told the GPS to search for gas stations, and we drove around to each one it listed, finding gas station after gas station sans car wash tunnel. Drat.

Finally, I found one in a shady part of town that wasn’t “touchless” (I didn’t even know the ones with brushes even existed any more!) Plus it was unlit, but whatever, we found our car wash. I pulled into the gas station pump area to get the gas first, locking Brittany in the car as I got out, since it was a less than stellar neighborhood. Got to keep her safe, you know. Not all of us are black belts.

I went to open the door to the gas tank, but it was stuck. I pushed where I always do, but with no success. Brittany got out of the car when she heard me struggling.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“I can’t get the door to the gas tank open!” I told her, as I pushed on the side of the tank door that I always push on to open it. “I swear I’ve done this before! And it always opens!”

She and I both tried to open it, and nothing. Wouldn’t budge. I tried using my credit card for leverage to pry it open. Still didn’t come open. We pushed and pulled until we were completely at a loss as to what to do and had left fingerprints all over both sides of the small useless door. We looked at each other.

“Do you want to go back to the QT we were at earlier?” I asked her. “It’s better-lit and we probably won’t get shot or stabbed over there while we try to figure it out,” I said. She agreed, and we headed back to the QT, which had cheaper gas anyway (but no car wash), and at this point, a clean car was the least of our worries.

When we pulled into the QT, I handed her the manual to try to figure out what was wrong (who needs a manual to open the door to their gas tank? Me, apparently), and I went back out to the door to try to pry it open once again. At this point Brittany was laughing pretty hard at me and my lack of ability to actually operate my own car. (Did I mention that it’s pretty new?)

I grabbed my badge from work, which was slightly thicker than the credit card and therefore would pry it a little better, and went after it with that. I got the corners of the door a little farther out, but it still wouldn’t open. I got back into the car with Brittany, and we poured over the owners manual.

”To open the fuel filler lid, unlock the fuel filler lid lock by using one of the following operations, then push the right-hand side of the lid. 1) Press the UNLOCK button on the keyfob once. 2) Insert the key into the door lock cylinder and turn the door key cylinder to the rear of the vehicle. 3) Press the power door lock switch to the UNLOCK position.”

I stopped reading and looked at Brittany in stunned silence. As I rose from the car, I pressed the unlock button on the driver’s side door, unlocking all the doors in the car. I then walked over to the gas tank door, pushed the right side with one finger, opening it effortlessly.

We erupted into a fit of laughter as we contemplated the extreme stupidity of the situation, got our gas, and finally went on our way. I’m glad I didn’t damage the gas tank door with all the prying. There’s something about Brittany and me together that just invites idiotic adventure.

On the way back to Brittany’s hotel, I got lost only once more. That is, until after I dropped her off and mistakenly entered 45 South, which would send me to Houston (which is not where I live) instead of North Dallas (where I do live). But hey, at least I had enough gas in the tank to get me there.


The Hixson Family said...

Oh my! I wouldn't tell anyone about the whole gas door episode...wait a minute, too late! That is definitely "Not me!" Monday material :o)

Alicia said...

I agree...for a minute there I thought I was reading a Not Me Monday post. That was hilarious. Especially since my hubby did pretty much the same thing. We pulled into the station in my car (he was driving & my car was fairly new)he got out to pump gas and I stayed in the car. After a minute or two I looked out and he was fumbling with the tank door. I suddenly realized I had to unlock it for him!! He didnt know because I always drive it! Too funny!

Courtney said...

You two are a hoot...thanks for the laugh!