There’s no doubt Hurricane Sandy has left many victims in the greater New York and New Jersey area in its wake. Thousands of people are without power and food for the 4th day in a row. The spirit of camaraderie and together-ness has slowly begun to devolve into “every man for himself’” and “survival of the fittest” and it’s getting ugly. Can’t wait for that NYC Marathon on Sunday, by the way. Note the sarcasm.
I had to drive to my home in upstate NY last night from Stamford, CT. I came down on Wednesday for work with no storm-related issues. The power in my apartment was on, no damage to the complex or work. For the most part, everything was cool. That’s more than many others can say and I definitely felt lucky for it. As I left work, all I needed to do was get some gas and drive home. That’s where the fun began.
I left Stamford around 5 PM to head upstate. I was between 1/4 and 1/8 of a tank of gas. I typically stop at the Gulf station right before I get on I-95 towards the Tappan Zee Bridge. As I drove by, there was a 50-car line in both directions waiting to get into the station. Fuck that, I thought. I have enough gas to get across the bridge. I’ll get gas at the big rest area on I-87. And off I went. Traffic was as usual on a Thursday evening towards the Tappan Zee; heavy in some areas, light in others. As I merged onto I-87 to get on the bridge, the electronic sign on the side of the road said there was no gas at any of the rest areas for the next 50+ miles on the Thruway. That’s going to be a problem. I switched the reading on my dashboard to display how many miles I had left. It read “30 miles”. My first bit of panic began to set in.
I crossed the bridge and got off at the first main exit for Nyack where there’s a station right off the exit. The line for the station was backed up all the way to the entrance of the exit. The gas gauge was now hovering near the “E”. I make a command decision to wait in this line, no matter how long it took. I thought, “I’m not going to drive all over the goddamn place, wasting gas, just to hopefully find a station somewhere. I’m here, I’m staying.”
I flipped over to the Opie & Anthony Channel on Sirius XM and start catching the morning replay. I’m admittedly late to their show, but they and Jim Norton make me “howl”, to use an Opie-ism. On this show, they had comedian Jim Florentine in studio and they were making fun of some of their old terrestrial radio bits. “How you doin’ brother man?” They were god-awful in the best way.
The line for gas moved extremely slow. As is typically the case, multiple asshole drivers thought they could just merge their way into the gas line with no problem. Not this time. No one had any compassion whatsoever for this shit and they were swiftly denied. This wasn’t the usual situation where some jerkoff waits until the absolute last second to finally merge into a lane while cutting someone off. This was for reals, yo. Fuck off and get to the back of the line like everyone else.
After 45 minutes or so, I was 5 cars away from getting in the station, but the cars ahead of me mysteriously started to drive off. What the hell? Holy shit, I’m suddenly next!! Erroneous. The poor female gas station attendant was standing at the entrance. “Sorry, we’re out of gas.” Panic suddenly intensified.
I was shuttled into the right-hand lane by the police escort near the gas station. I didn’t quite know where I was, but I knew I needed to get back onto I-87 North. Of course, I ended up in the lane for I-87 South and crossed back over the Tappan Zee like a complete imbecile. Son of a mother-loving bitch. Now the gas gauge is just shy of the “E” and the dashboard is saying I have about 25 miles left in the tank. I immediately get off at the Tarrytown exit to turn around and get back on the Thruway. There is no easy-on, easy-off, so I end up driving all the way over to the goddamn Saw Mill Parkway to ultimately get back on.
By now, Opie & Anthony have moved on to an interview with RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. He directed the new movie The Man With the Iron Fists and is talking about his Brooklyn/Staten Island upbringing and his relationship with Quentin Tarantino. This conversation is the only thing that’s helping to maintain my sanity, but not because of the content of the interview. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to listen, but I kept thinking back to my days of living in San Diego in the late 1990s when my boy Rob would wear his Wu-Tang shirt that said, “Ain’t Nuthin’ to Fuck Wit’” on the back. My wife used to give him shit constantly. In her sweet voice, she’d say, “So Rob, ain’t nuthin’ but a dimwit.” He could only put his head down in shame. She was/is too nice for a counter attack. And then we’d get over it by drinking 36 beers a night.
I got back on the Thruway, crossed the bridge again, and headed north. “15 miles” left in the tank. I knew that there was a point where I needed to, as my late father-in-law so eloquently put it, “either shit or bake a cake”. I was 99.99% certain that I wouldn’t make it to the Harriman exit before sucking the tank completely dry. I wasn’t interested in acting like Kramer from Seinfeld, when he and a car salesman created a homage to Thelma and Louise by driving until the gas ran out (Even my references have references. How meta is that?).
I decided to get off at the Sloatsburg exit and either find a gas station or go empty and live with the consequences. Oddly enough, Rob, who lives fairly close by, called me out of the blue as I traversed the bridge a second time. I had him on standby, just in case. My wife was starting to get antsy as I wouldn’t answer her calls, not out of frustration at her, but out of sheer anger at this whole situation. I would soon have her on standby as well.
I drove into town and saw a gas station up ahead on the left. It didn’t look like there was any line to get in from what I could see. Wrong. Of course, they had the left turn blocked off and there was a massive line coming from the other side of the street into the station. Fuuuuuuuck. I went to the end of the line, turned around and queued up. I looked at the gas gauge. It was now on “E” and maybe even slightly past it, if that’s possible. The dashboard monitor wouldn’t even give me the amount of miles I had left in the tank. I made my second command decision; I was going to live or die on this line.
I shut the car off to conserve whatever drops of gas I had left, but I kept the radio on. Opie & Anthony gave way to the Miami/Virginia Tech football game as I stared longingly at the restaurant across the street. Part of me secretly hoped that my car would run out of gas right here so I could sit at the bar and drink myself through the wait for gas. I sipped at my water bottle out of sheer habit, pretending it was a bottle of suds. I drink water religiously when I drive for a couple reasons. First, it makes me stop more often to recharge the ol’ batteries. Second, it keeps liquid flowing through the kidneys so I don’t get another kidney stone. I’ll skip that horror show again, thank you very much. But I was creating another issue by drinking so much water. I had to take a piss.
There was no way I was getting out of this line. There could have been a guy with a severed carotid artery next to me and I would have thrown him some balled-up Wendy’s napkins from my glove compartment and told him to apply direct pressure while I remained comfortably in line for gas. But I really had to pee bad and once you know you have to pee, there’s not much that can take your mind off it. I needed a plan. Like Seal Team 6 putting together a detailed plan to kill Osama Bin Laden, I got to work on Operation Piss Relief.
First thing I did was dump the remaining water out of my water bottle. I wasn’t concerned with this; it was dark and people dump liquid out of containers all the time. Next, I grabbed a shirt I had sitting on the floor in the back. I tucked the shirt into my inner thighs and underneath my crotch. Little did this shirt know that it was about to be a casualty of war. Then I needed to wait, but not too long. I needed to be near a street light; not because I wanted people to see what I was about to do, but so I could see what I was about to do. I had one shot at this…literally. Like Luke Skywalker having only one chance to hit a 2-meter hole to destroy the Death Star, I had only one shot to get the “hole in my helmet” into the small opening of the Poland Spring plastic water bottle. It’s not like I could start a stream and then line up the bottle to catch the urine. I’d piss all over the seat if I tried that. I unzipped my fly and got ready.
I moved up another car length and finally had enough street light to launch the operation. I lined up as best as I could tell with the little light I had and let loose. Aaaaahhhhhh. What a relief. I lined everything up perfectly and the bottle was quickly filling up. I heard Han Solo in my head, “Great shot, kid. That was one in a million”. And yet, another problem was quickly presenting itself. The bottle was almost full and I had too much piss left. Any male knows that it’s virtually impossible to stop peeing in mid-stream. It’s an all or nothing proposition. I grabbed the shirt and put a Z-kink on my unit as if it were an out-of-control fire hose. I plugged the hole as best as I could. I opened the window again and, for the second time in less than 5 minutes, dumped a container full of liquid on the road. Now, I’m all in my head thinking everyone behind me knows that I just dumped a water bottle full of piss on the road, but I didn’t really care at that point.
I carefully moved the car up again while keeping a firm grip on to ensure the Z-kink remained intact. As I lined up again to rid myself of the rest of the urine, a guy started walking right towards my car from the other side of the road. Did he just see me dump my piss? Is he coming to reprimand me? What the hell is going on here? I quickly covered up as he continued to approach. I faked looking disinterested as he eventually walked around the front of my car to the house across the street. Thank God. I finished Operation Piss Relief and put the bottle in my cup holder instead of dumping liquid out of the window for the third time. Even with everything going on, the feeling of being pee-free was truly orgasmic.
Now, all I had to do was get gas and I was good to go. The process of starting the car, moving up a car length, shutting it off, repeat, repeat, repeat, continued for another hour. Some fights between drivers started to brew. None of them came to blows, but it was close. Finally, I pulled in to the pump and hoped beyond hope that there was still gas left. There was. Pumping gas into my tank was as orgasmic as peeing into a water bottle. I damn near floated on air as I hopped back in my car to take off. The rest of the drive home was a piece of cake.
Of course, the whole time I was pumping my gas, I forgot that I didn’t dump the half-full bottle of piss from my cup holder. As I was nearing the Goshen exit on Route 17, I mindlessly grabbed the bottle and took a sip.
Alright, I’m lying. I didn’t drink it, but it was close. Thanks for the memories, Sandy.
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