Running on Empty

It promises to be one of those classic show-downs between Venus and Mars.

Here’s the deal. Hertz lets you fill up before you return your rental car but charges $9 a gallon for however much they have to add to bring it to a full tank. Or they will bill you up front for what it costs them to fill it after you return it at $2.44 a gallon, so the closer you come to returning it completely  empty, the more you use of what you’ve already been charged for.

Can you see where this is going?

I know the Nissan Versa gets x miles per gallon and has a x gallon tank. I know how far it is from where we are this morning to the airport in Kansas City and have calculated just exactly how few gallons I can add to travel that many miles–plus 10, heck, might as well have a little wiggle room . I can have this puppy needing a tail wind to limp it onto the Hertz lot in the morning before we fly out.

She, on the other hand…

I’ll let you know how this confrontation between pure Spockian logic and irrational sky-is-falling emotional fear-mongering works out.

But you must know, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, guys. If you persevere and insist on proving your point, you’ll catch the devil. But lo, should your careful calculations somehow inexplicably go wrong, you’ll suffer the devil of I TOLD YOU SO for the rest of your natural days.

So my best guess is that Spock is toast, that Hertz comes out way to the good on this because the gas tank needle on their Nissan Versa will rest somewhere near the middle between E and F. There will be much muttering under the breath on the 3 flights home by the guy with the pointy ears, feeling having once again triumphed over knowing.  Beam me up, Scotty.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Spock, you lose. Find a gas station right before you return it, and tell them you returned it full. (That’s what I always do.)

  2. I have been stuck on the side of the road in several mid-western states due to various malfuntions of autos. This said, fill up and suck it up. It is no fun and not worth worrying Miss. Ann.