For the Oklahoma Women Bloggers "For the Love of Blogging challenge and because it's my Feburary Friend day, I'm featuring Kelley from Delta Moxie. I first became aware of Kelley and Delta Moxie when I adopted myself into the State of Arkansas. When you read Kelley's blog and a post ends, you always want it to go on and you think, "Would it be weird to call her up and meet her for dollar menu meal?" So, I asked her to drive the minivan today so that y'all would want to meet her for a dollar menu meal as well.
It's that time of night when it it is really dark. The sun is on the other side of the earth right now.
My passenger has been asleep since Russellville, Arkansas as we make our way to Shawnee, Oklahoma for the night. Our final destination is Guthrie but I need to sleep before then.
As I hear the rhythm of I-40 at 75 mph (dah, dump, dah dump), I glance at my dashboard clock and see it is 1:30 a.m.
I would have left earlier, but I had to work unexpectedly and driving at night happened to be part of my plan to get from southeast Arkansas to central Oklahoma. And it's quite peaceful driving at night.
The next town is Checotah. I'm going to get gas and use the restroom.
Just as I'm finalizing my plan to stop in Checotah, I hear, "I was thinking about the universe. Oh, I can see all the stars right now. What are your thoughts on black holes? Do you think black holes use gravitational pull to acquire their surrounding matter?"
I barely have time to answer, "Ohhh." "Yes." "I'm not sure." When she changes the subject.
This is my passenger.
She's my 6 year-old daughter. I'm not saying she's a genius, but I won't deny she's a Carl Sagan, quantum physics, Nova, NPR Science Friday, Einstein, and Stephen Hawking enthusiast.
So my little Carl Sagan-ette continues to bend her mind around atoms as she explains if I were to jump out of a fourth floor window, all of my atoms would still be there, they'd just be arranged differently.
This enlightening conversation abruptly ends when I glance back at the dashboard and notice I only have two miles left estimated on this tank of gas.
What happened? Did I enter the time/space continuum and totally forget to stop because Checotah is 20 miles behind us. Panic surges to my heart and quickly spreads as I search my brain for options. I take note that traffic is sparse on I-40 at this time of night.
"Nice," says my inner critic. "Just add a psycho, serial killer with an RV and you've got yourself the makings of one horrific, terrifying Dean Koontz novel in real life." Great. Thanks for selecting the worst case scenario so quickly.
In my mind, Running out of gas on I-40 is not an option. Not with Emmy in the car.
Panic is surging throughout my body now. My eyes search the dark horizon. There is nothing ahead of me. It's black. Not even headlights. I begin a peripheral scan from right to left.
To the left a bright neon sign beacons to me as my only hope to safety for now. It reads, "Golden Pony Casino".
One mile until I'm out of gas and I'm going to a casino.
The exit is two miles away and I take my Prius v into golf cart mode to save gas. (The Prius v is like a mini-mini van and I like to think I have that in common with Minivan momma).
I call the electric part of my Toyota Prius golf cart mode. To run all electric requires a much slower speed (20-25 mph) but it can get 99.9 mph as long as the battery has a charge. I can go a few miles like this without using gas.
Emmy says, "Golf Cart mode! I love golf cart mode!"
We make it to the Creek Indian Reservation Golden Pony Casino and I park as close to the front door as possible.
I know what I need. I need fuel for my car and the one thing standing in my way is the fact there is no gas station.
I force a cleansing breath. Inhale: one, two, three, four, five. And Exhale: one, two, three, four, five.
I close my eyes and say this prayer in my head, "Dear God, How are you? Well, I know this is silly question because you're God. And you're all good all the time. I guess there's no need in telling you about me because, well, you're God and well, you already know. I realize we have already talked today but I feel compelled to touch base with you. So, Almighty One, I have no idea how this is going to work. Please be with us. Please protect us and keep us safe. I want you to know I'm ready for what you have planned. Thank you."
I close my eyes and take in one more cleansing breath and whisper aloud, "I can do this."
I open my eyes, looking straight forward into the casino parking lot and repeat firmly this time, "I. CAN. DO. THIS."
Emmy is silent and absorbing every word and move.
"Emmy," I begin to reveal my plan for the stop at the casino. "Mommy is going inside this establishment and to see if someone can help us get gas for the car." I deliver my orders, "Mommy needs you to stay in the car. DO NOT OPEN the car for anyone except me. Am I clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," she answers like all Southern children are raised to do.
I hand her my iPad and finally tell her the very secret code to access it and tell her she can play any game she wants.
I grab two $20 bills and prepare to pay $40 for at least a gallon of gas.
Humbly, I enter the dimly lit slot-machine filled casino and see a security guard. On a mission, I am unsure which words I will use to explain my situation.
The security guard is looking at me with suspicion as he should. I tell the story about my car being out of gas in the parking lot with my 6-year-old daughter. Two more security guards appear and seem extremely interested in how moronic I am. I squelch the defensive side of my personality and take another piece of humble pie as I share the short version of my story with them.
It's like this. "My child was telling me about the universe and black holes and I forgot to get gas in Checotah."
What other details do you need to know? As they conclude I'm a sober a run-of-the-mill tennis/dance/piano mom who's attempting to make some $h!t happen by fitting 27 hours in a day by driving all freaking night, they realize a 6-year-old girl is sitting in my car in their casino parking lot. They are very concerned and willing to help me. One guard insisted I take some complimentary hot chocolate for her.
I tell them I have $40 for gas as they tell me there is a gas station eight miles away in Okemah. I sound ridiculous for getting in this situation, but they are willing to help me and I'm grateful.
I take a warm cup of hot chocolate out to Emmy who is compliantly sitting in the locked car playing a game on my iPad and she is thrilled.
She is so good.
The guards bring a bright red gas container filled with a gallon of gas and put it in my car.
I pour out my gratitude and offer them the $40. They refused the money stating it is against their policy to accept money.
I leave Emmy in the car one last time as I have the urge to pay this incredible sense of generosity back. I took the two $20 bills into the casino and search for two random slots players to gift. I walk up to a man who appears to be in his mid-twenties and looks as if he could be friends with Jesse from Breaking Bad. He was playing a slot machine and I say, "Hi, I am going to give you $20 if you'll use it to play here. I am doing this because the security guards have done something really nice for me and they will not accept money."
He gladly accepts the $20 with a "Cool. Thanks, yo."
I turn the corner and search for a person in a line of machines with the least amount left on their slot machine and I tell her the same.
Emmy and I leave the parking lot and drive to Okemah to the gas station. Still on high alert, we arrive at the shell gas station. With eight miles to drive, the miles estimated to empty is zero.
This is my definition of faith.
The bright gas island lights remind me of a beacon of safety and I bask in it's glow for a minute. I pause and thank God for the good people of this world and for his help. The voice in the back pipes in and asks, "Can I have some candy?"
It's 2:30 a.m. and the next stop is the la Quinta in Shawnee so we can sleep for a bit.
Emmy is wide awake and continues her conversation before we stopped at the casino, "Jellyfish use propulsion for their mobility. Jellyfish are fabulous."
"Yes, jellyfish are fabulous," I agree.
When we see my grandmother and aunt later in the day light, the first thing out of Emmy's mouth is, "My mom ran out of gas at a casino last night."
My verbal story of the events were no match to this written recollection of how mommy ran out of gas at the casino. Yes, so if there is a trophy for not-so Mommy of the year award? I am a good candidate.
By the way, I do not recommend getting gas at the Golden Pony Casino and I will deny any interpretation of this story as they'd give you gas. Feel free to stop by there and play $20 in a slot machine.
Minivan Momma, thank you for featuring lil' o' me as a guest. To say I am extremely proud is an understatement. You make me laugh out loud with every post.