Whenever I arrive home to Texas for break, my family drives straight from the airport to our favorite barbecue restaurant. We catch up on each other’s weeks spent apart then finish off our meal with a slice of pecan pie split four ways.
By that point, I am always eager to see my friends at home (and excited about getting to drive my car again) so my night usually progresses from eating dinner with my family to spending much needed time with the girls who helped get me through high school.
This break, my post-dinner heart-to-hearts culminated in a four-hour chat as I sat in my car with a best friend, listening to music late at night in the parking lot of Rice University. The warning light that my gas was low had been on when I drove my car after dinner, so I made sure the engine was off as we chatted.
Nevertheless, once we’d finished discussing everything from classes to relationships and I turned the key in my ignition, my car refused to start. Instead, the engine groaned and sputtered.
I called my brother, who promptly told me just to sleep in my car. This sounded like a horrible alternative, even in comparison to the bed I’d since left behind in my dorm room. So we faced no other choice: call the Rice police.
Two policemen soon arrived in a giant pickup truck to jump the battery in my car (new piece of information: the black cable goes to the negative side, and the red to the positive). I was wishing I’d paid more attention to why Toyota had been forced to recall so many of their cars, but after a few tries my Highlander finally started.
However, before I could celebrate, one of the officers noticed I was also nearly out of gas. Rolling his eyes, he proceeded to lecture me about why I should never let the level fall below a fourth of a tank. Unfortunately, all of my efforts were placed on not letting myself laugh at how irresponsible I seemed, rather than paying attention to why this was so.
I then had to follow him to the gas station where, as I pulled the key out of the ignition, he came up to the window and said, “Be sure not to turn off your car.”
I promptly turned the key again and, thank God, my car started. The officer then began to pump the fuel into my car, and asked how I liked being a student at Rice. When I responded that I went to school in Connecticut and had simply been visiting a friend, he asked if I went to U. Conn.
I told him I was a student at Yale. An excited look came over his face and he told me he’d been a police officer there five years ago. We discussed the good and the bad of New Haven (he sent a shout-out to Officer Simons and warned me about the drug house that used to be behind Toad’s), until the tank of my car was once again full.
Then, finally driving home at 2 am, I pulled out of the gas station parking lot with a revived battery and a full tank of gas. All I could do was laugh. Turns out, a little bit of Yale had followed me home.