Thursday, 8 September 2011


I drive an old Commodore station wagon which has proved itself time and time again to be very reliable. Not the prettiest ride on the street but it is exceptional when it comes to carrying large canvases and art gear around. Affectionately known as "Molly", this faithful old bus gets me to work and back day after day. But Molly has one problem.

The fuel gauge.

The station wagon I had before this one, "Dolly", could be driven on the red line for at least another 30 kilometres before it started coughing and spitting. Many a time I came home in this car on no more than the smell of an oily rag. But not Molly. She still happily shows a quarter of a tank of fuel left, well above the dreaded red line before she drops her bundle.

So far, Molly has run out of fuel on me 4 times. But never out on the road, or in the middle of nowhere. Never has she coughed and spluttered or lurched, giving you a tiny hint that she needs a feed. Oh no, Molly very conveniently decides to run out out fuel the moment I pull up at the front door. So reliable she is. She gets me home every time before pulling the plug.

Molly pulled one of her "out of fuel" tricks on me last night. I arrived safely home, went inside to get changed, pick up my partner and head for a night of wining and dining at my surrogate daughter's house. I assumed I had enough fuel to go out to dinner and stop to fill up on the way home. But when I got back in the car and turned the key, all I got was coughing and spluttering in tune to a protesting fuel pump.

So there we are, soon to be late for dinner, with a car that flatly refuses to leave and the nearest petrol station about 5 kilometres away. She has done her work for the day and nothing is going to budge her tonight. We go back inside, get the fuel can and the keys to our other car.

Our other car is a little green buzz box that we call Harvey. Over the last couple of months we have been having some much needed work done, including repairs to a broken seat. Harvey is usually reliable, but at the moment still needs bypass surgery to fix his sometimes clogged injectors. The mechanic tried to clean them as best he could then shook his head and told us the sad news that he thought the car would need an operation. My partner thinks we should try one of those fuel treatments first and if that doesn't work - then by all means spend the money. So we jump into Harvey armed with our fuel can and a "can do" attitude. Harvey doesn't disappoint. He coughs into life first go and we back out the drive and head up the road.

I know for a fact the fuel treatment is not going to work. Harvey is making a noise akin to a F18 jet fighter, turbo charged with heavy duty extractors and a lumpy cam. The newly fixed seat is like sitting on a concrete block and I wonder if I am going to end up with either a broken back, piles or both. Every rev head on the Peninsula poked their heads outside their door when we went past. I'm sure they heard Harvey up on the Queensland border. Still, undaunted, we kept going until we reached the service station and got that gas can filled.

Feeling game, we decide then to keep going up the road to make our dinner date. We make it, eat, drink and be merry then back in the car to go home. Once we arrive safely back, thanks to Harvey, my partner empties the fuel can into Molly and leaves her for the night.

This morning I came out to go to work and Molly started first go. No coughing or spluttering, just a smooth, effortless kick into life. The fuel gauge is showing half full. My first stop? You guessed it. The petrol station, where I filled her to overflowing.

She's not going to get me a 5th time....

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