A Unicorn Story

-Lori Oliver

Have you ever heard the expression: “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”? I had heard the expression…but its full meaning had been lost on me until recently. My son and I took a road trip to a Wisconsin town about 4 hours away from my home in Walnut Grove, to buy a booth, like a restaurant booth, that was for sale on Facebook Marketplace. We hitched up the cargo trailer and set out on Friday morning.

We were home by 10:30 pm on Saturday night, after driving through a prairie deluge that, in retrospect, I should have not taken as lightly as I did, especially after what happened during the previous 24 hours. Gee, we might have been stranded! On a lonely rural highway! In bad weather! Without help. Again.
We had stopped for gas midafternoon. But what was this? The indicators on the dash said my range was 87 miles…not 300. And the gas gauge read “low fuel.” I griped, “Darn it, if this fancy tech car has a faulty fuel sensor it’s not going to be a cheap fix. I’ll just set my odometer to zero and every 200 miles I’ll fill up.” This was precisely what the service manager suggested when I called to arrange an appointment for Monday. He agreed it might be a sensor, or the fuel pump, after first asking, “Are you sure you aren’t just out of gas?” That was the first of four times I would be asked that question over the next four hours. Each time my reply was a confident, “Impossible. I just filled up! [#] minutes ago!”
Insert a full day of misery here. Add several hundred dollars in transport costs and two calls to AAA. Turn the heat and humidity up to Midwest Murder. Sprinkle in a few good folks, and a few not so good ones, and that was one long day.

Now I’ll leap to the end. I WAS out of gas. You may be asking, who solved the mystery—I did. I woke up at 2 am. I needed to find out how much money I could afford to spend on the way back home. After all, my car would be in the shop for a week! I checked my balances and even the credit limit on my credit card. Then I saw it! The Chase app revealed that day’s gas purchase had been authorized for zero dollars and zero cents. Nary a drop of gas had been pumped. The car’s gauges had been correct. And every one of the four people who asked, “Are you sure you aren’t out of gas?” had heard hoofbeats. Only I had thought…it must be unicorns!
Got gas. Fetched car. Picked up booth. Drove home in a wicked scary thunder storm. Lesson learned.