So. I learned to drive in Oregon, one of two states in the U.S. where it is illegal to pump your own gas.
The first time I ever had to pump my own gas was after I moved to Pittsburgh. Our friend Ruby was letting us borrow her car while she was out of town for the week and I had been instructed by my husband to make sure I filled it with gas before heading out on a trip to the fabric store. I pulled up to the gas pump and got out of the car. I walked over to the little gas door only to discover that I couldn't open it. I considered trying to claw it open. I didn't. I remembered that some cars have a button you push to open the gas door. I looked on the clicker... nothing. I returned to the driver's seat and started looking on the dash. There was a button for the trunk and one for the hood, nothing for the gas door.
I pulled out my phone. I didn't have Silas's work number and we hadn't get gotten our spiffy new cell phones. So I called Ruby. The phone rang once. It rang twice. Then Ruby picked up. There was no "Hello!" There was no "How's it going?" There was no "Happy Hanukkah!" There was only "Elisabeth Snider, did you wreck my car?" After assuring her that I had not wrecked her car and was only highly incompitent, she told me where the lever was I proceeded to get gas. Uneventfully.
Fast forward five months.
Silas had to be at the airport at 4:30am Sunday morning. Our friend Faith graciously allowed us to use her car since, ya know, she wouldn't even know it was gone as I'd have it back before she even woke up. As I dropped Silas off he told me to return the car with a full tank. So, good wife that I am, I headed to the gas station on the way home from the airport. I pulled up next to the gas pump. I pushed the little button that released the gas door. I got out of the car and went to unscrew the gas cap. Nothing doing. The thing clearly unscrewed... but I could NOT unscrew it! I twisted with all my might! I tried again and again. Nothing doing.
I pulled out my phone. I hated to call Silas. I mean HATED! His plane hadn't left yet and he was still at the airport, I was sure. But, I mean, I JUST dropped him off! I wanted him to know that I was a big girl who didn't need to be told how to unscrew a gas cap! I considered calling Faith for about the half a second it took for me visualize how happy she would be about being woken up at 5 in the morning by a ridiculous pregnant lady who lacked problem solving skills.
So I called Silas. He answered the phone with a "Yes?" which said it all. He was clearly thinking "What has my wife done now..." he scoffed upon hearing my predicament. "You have to push it IN while you turn it." he said "I TRIED that!" I said, as I tried, once again. It opened. "Oh." "Did you get it." "Yeah. Thanks." "Do you need anything else?" Yes, would you change my diaper and make me a nice warm bottle of milk, please. "No." "Ok then."
I was kicking myself for being stupid. I swiped my card. The pump told me to insert the nozzle in the car and select gas. I did. The pump told me the transaction could not be processed and to try again. I tried again. FAIL! I looked for a sign that said to prepay inside, but I didn't see one. I pushed the "help" button, but no help came. So I went inside. The gas station clerk laughed at me, this poor pregnant woman who did not know how to take off her gas cap and now couldn't make the pump work. He winked at me "Not your fault, there's no sign, but you have to prepay inside at this hour of the morning." "Oh." I said, thoroughly beaten. He laughed again.
Finally, I went out and finished pumping gas. I returned Faith's car and walked home thinking about how the gas pump kicked my butt. My mother would have said "You just have to be smarter than the gas pump, Elisabeth!" Clearly I'm not.