A Fateful Friday, by Christopher Keller

Once upon a time there lived a college boy who was low on gas. It was the beginning of the week, but he was only drive to parking lots and back, so he figured he could fill up at the end of the week. This decision was a monumental one, for little did he know that this decision, along with a slightly more constructive one, would cause “The Stress-Filled Day” to begin.

This boy (we’ll call him Phil, short for “Philanthropist”) went through the week, having a pretty great one, in fact, despite the massive workload choking away his life. He had recently acquired a tremendous boon, one that he often kept with him to bring sunshine to the cloudy days, even though it wasn’t entirely fond of the sunlight it brought about.

Anyway, the week went on, and Phil’s car was driven more and more, and the gas meter dropped lower and lower like an elevator with its cords cut. At this point you’re probably thinking this is a story about running out of gas – let me assure you immediately that this is not at all the case of this story.

Wednesday night was a night any 40-year-old living in their parents basement would dream about, since Star Wars was the setting for being with a real, live girl, but Thursday was far less eventful. However, once again, this is not a romantic comedy or tragic love lost story, this story strictly concerns the events of Friday, May 19.

French. Lost bets, hopes undashed after being dashed and then forcefully dashing them led up to a frantic walk across campus to pick up a car required to car pool three people not entirely wanting to be carpooled, but were carpooled nevertheless. With a forty-minute window to get to his destination, by the time the adventurers were gathered there was only twenty minutes left, and a gas light that had been on since the day before (at least). So a stop at the gas station left them even less time; so little time that Phil only put in ten dollars worth of gas – which, at today’s exorbitant prices, meant not so much.

Fortunately, the larger half of Margris has an uncanny knack for breaking the law and getting away with it, so Phil entrusted his fate to him while driving 70 in more than one 55 zone. They made it on time, but not after a necessary turn around to avoid construction halts, a yarding truck, a combine, and a mysterious gas tanker seemingly set by the Lord Himself perpendicular to the road, trying to turn around.

Upon arriving at the theatre, Phil had to make a quick decision between viewing pleasure and a far more preferable seating arrangement; in the haste of it all he perhaps chose a regrettable answer, but the possibility of changing his mind was quickly squelched. Fortunately for him, the lost choice was, for a brief moment (hereafter known as “intermission”), available to him, but once again made itself scarce once the entire ordeal was over with, leaving Phil to dine with only his carpool.

Finally arriving home once again, Phil decided not to waste the day, but instead work towards a looming goal. Sadly, he made steps even a baby could have outpaced, but they were steps nonetheless, so he really couldn’t complain. But he did. He wanted to make up the time of Thursday and the Friday ordeal, though prior engagements prevented more than a one-hour reprieve, punctuated by being forced into the public eye. A quick fleeing soon followed, and Phil parted for his abode once again.

Unbeknownst to him, his prior engagements at the Sandy actor’s theatre production of “Play It Again Sam” would begin in nearly 2 hours – his companion had already left, and called to let him know the tickets were reserved. However, after packing and preparing for the greater Portland area, he was down to 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach his destination: a slightly tight yet achievable goal. Shortly after leaving, though, the red-headed ball of energy called to let him know to drive through Independence to avoid a traffic accident, which undoubtedly cost him far more time getting to and through Independence in the middle of the day than the car accident (which had probably dissipated by then) would have taken. Nevertheless, our intrepid adventurer continued on.

Traffic was poor in odd places, and after a clog on 99, he decided to up his speed a little bit more over the speed limit, right past the waiting radar gun of a motorcycle cop. Being the fastest car in the pack, he was a little worried; this worry was exacerbated to a death-fear as the cop lowered his radar gun and headed towards his bike. Panicked, Phil got into the slow lane and turned into the next side street available, which turned out to be a parking lot. Scared to death at the consequences of the attempted evasion should he be discovered, he humbly turned around in the lot and hoped against hope the cop hadn’t pursued him.

Apparently some of the Margris gene was still embedded in the backseat of the car, for Phil continued on undeterred.

Somewhat wary, Phil went far slower than his earlier trek to the opera house, and was making livable time until the unthinkable happened: the gas light came on again. Apparently ten dollars worth of gas really won’t get you that far. He passed, Oregon City, Clackamas, Portland, and by Fairview he knew he needed gas. Already flustered by the mental mangling of the day’s many moments, he was forced to do a stoplight-left-turn and cross traffic again to get into the gas station he found after oh-so-long. To add insult to injury, he pulled up on the wrong side of his car; a feat he had never to his memory transgressed before this fateful Friday.

Flustered, Phil circled around and pulled up on the right side of the gas tanks. Unwilling to allow the rest to proceed peacefully, the garbled English of the gas attendant, after several attempts, revealed that not only could he not use his credit card, but that he had to pay inside. Please note that by this time he had approximately ten minutes to get about ten minutes to his destination. Slightly irked by the trouble translating the attendant’s instructions, he grabbed his wallet, rolled up his window, locked and slammed his car door, and headed in to pay for another ten bucks of gas.

I repeat: He grabbed his wallet, rolled up his window, locked and slammed his car door, and headed in to pay for another ten bucks of gas. There is a key event missing in this process that would allow him to make it to his destination on time, n’est-ce pas?

He realized this as he approached the cashier. Realizing this could cause his mood to swing violently, he decided to instead take action – he grabbed a king-size Snickers bar and bought it along with his measly amount of gas into the now unenterable car. Fortunately for him (as unfortunate as the day had been, he ruefully realized how many “fortunately”s there also were in the fateful day), the cashier was friendly enough to let him use his phone to contact the matriarch or his brood and beg her to bring a spare key. She arrived twenty minutes later, and they convoyed all the back to his parent’s domicile, finally accepting the fact that Sam would have to play it again some other day.

On the way home he called his good friend Drawback Zack, the punk rocker and LAN party staple, who arranged to have him and his friend E (not a drug reference, this is a real person) come over for some Warcraft III craziness. All went according to plan there (Read: an hour’s worth of set-up, multiple install attempts and firewall fiddlings like strawberry fields forever) until Zack revealed to Phil that his girlfriend of four years had just “mutualishly” terminated their monogamous affair. A harsh scar of bitterness never before present in Zack made Phil want to weep for his punk rocker (but soon to be emo) friend, though the masculine mandates forbid any such shows of emotion.

The gaming was pleasant enough, but once that was over, Phil’s best friend of six years sent a message letting him know that she, also, had jumped back into the great fish pond of loneliness just this night. He suddenly realized he had upset the balance of nature – three significant figures of his life had, since three weeks ago Sunday, gone kaput in the S.O. section. He pondered to himself what long term effects would arise from this, but resolved to stand up against nature’s ugly head and ride out this storm. Especially since the entire time the driving disaster had been happening, his thoughts kept resting on that one element that he knew would have calmed him – not a little bit frustrated that rehearsals had built up to prevent any Friday night fun.

But the clock struck 1:35 AM, and he knew he had to draw the story to a close. So he did. Even though his gas light was still close to coming on once again.


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