Running on empty

Like most modern cars, mine contains a small computer which attempts to tell me how much petrol I have and how far I can drive before it all runs out. I’ve always been intrigued just how far I can get before the engine stops, it’s something handy to know when miles from the nearest petrol station too.

Last night I forgot to fill my car with petrol and this morning my car told me it had 27 miles of fuel remaining. I was late for work and based on previous experimentation knew I had enough to at least get to work. A 16 mile journey with 27 miles of fuel should be fine.

It was a bit ominous passing the last petrol station for six miles with the petrol meter saying 18 miles left. I put my foot down to go up a hill and was immediately told “—” miles left. I’m not entirely sure how the petrol meter works, but it’s evidently taking an average of the current MPG and some estimations programmed into it because rolling down the other side of the hill told me I once again had 18 miles left, and was doing an amazing 999.99MPG.

I made it to work fine, with a fuel meter telling me “—” miles left. The nearest petrol station was two miles away and I made it without incident, but really curious just how empty the tank was. From looking at Google Maps I’d driven six miles to work with the gauge saying “—” and a further two to the petrol station.

My car took 41 litres of petrol to fill it, before the pump’s cutout activated. I didn’t try to top the tank off and assume the pumps stop delivering fuel when liquid blocks the small hole in the end of the nozzle. According to the car’s handbook it has a fuel tank with an approximate capacity of 47 litres.

So I had six litres left and nothing to worry about really? maybe… probably not though. My car does, on average 40MPG which is the same as approximately 10 Miles per litre. My car told me I had 27 miles left which converts to around three litres of fuel. Except it stopped telling me how much was left after only ten miles of travelling. And then I drove a further six miles to work and two more to the petrol station.

The car will be programmed to err on the side of caution, with an unknown reserve to stop idiots like me getting stranded by the roadside. So according to the petrol station and car’s handbook I had six litres remaining which would have got me a further 8 miles approximately. However according to some very average maths I set off this morning with just three litres of fuel.

I’m guessing I rolled into the petrol station with less than half a litre of petrol remaining, probably a dribble in the bottom of the tank and whatever is in the fuel lines and filter.

41 litres of petrol cost me 48 quid ūüôĀ

Tales from the late shift Р£3/hour and all the books you can read

Back in my college (that’s what we English do between the ages of 16 and 18) days I used to have a part time job. Like most students the part time job was suitably easy, requiring no real skill beyond the ability to stand upright and appear at work when required.

My part time job was working in the local petrol station at unsociable hours during the weekends. So in response to people asking me “what did you do in your student days” I can reply “I sat in a small room reading books, watching people put petrol in their cars”. I didn’t need to go out drinking, the petrol fumes were enough.

I have many tales of weirdness to share with you, so this might become a regular thing until I run out of vaguely amusing anecdotes to tell.

My shifts used to run from 5pm to 11pm, 3pm to 11pm or the horrendous Sunday Morning shift of 7am to 3pm (or was it 8am, I can’t remember. I just remember it being nasty). To pass the time I had a variety of duties, the main one being extracting cash from customers in return for our extortionately priced petrol. We charged 80p/litre back in 1997 which made people grumpy. For the most part they willingly handed over the cash, and few tried to get away without paying.

My other duties included staying awake, watching the local teenagers steal things, talking to taxi drivers and spending three hours mopping the floor. And reading. I did a lot of reading, I think I read most of the sci-fi section of my local library. For this I was paid £3 an hour and it paid for my brand new Internet connection and mobile phone.

Taxi driver came banging on my window one night just as I was closing, evidently in some distress so I opened the door. “Quick mate, need a bucket and some water… some f*cker’s just spewed in my cab!”. People used to wait until I’d just closed up before running across all flustered asking for green rizlas, 10 B&H and a money bag. I wish the local potheads could tell the time and planned their munchie runs a bit better. You know, it’s not like many people want to buy petrol at 10pm so coming then to talk bollcoks at me would be much better.

Same in the morning with the dimwitted types who’d arrive on the¬†forecourt¬†before me and try filling up their cars. Hello! The shop is closed! You will need to hang the pump up or the computer won’t switch it on. No, you don’t understand do you? OK, I’ll go into the shop, turn on some lights and then vanish for fifteen minutes for a crap and a cup of tea while I wake up. You just stand there like a lemon.

And don’t even think of trying to buy your morning fags with that ¬£20 note as you’re my first customer and I have no change!

Where were you when Princess Di died? I was sat in the shop serving customers, it was a Sunday morning and quite sunny. We didn’t sell newspapers so I found out by customers telling me.

Driving on fumes

I’ve just discovered the computer in my car has trouble working out how many miles it can go before running out of fuel if the tank is nearly empty. For the past two days I’ve been driving around with the orange warning light on, indicating I really should fill up with petrol or face the consequences of my car stopping. The computer in my car claimed I had 60 miles left so, being me and slightly inquisitive, I ignored it.

The miles left seemed to drop to 40 and then stay around there for a long time. Enough for me to drive to and from work twice (which, conveniently, is approximately 40 miles! – I used to do that in a day before). As I was coming home, passing one of the many petrol stations on my route the computer in my car decided “nope, that’s your lot… you have —– miles left” and stopped telling me how far I could go.

I must have rolled into the petrol station with about a teacup of petrol left. There can’t have been more than a small amount sloshing around in the bottom of the petrol tank, just enough to make the fuel gauge register.

It’s very convenient living two minutes (on foot) away from a petrol station, even if it does want to charge 117.9p/litre.