February 5

Running on Empty

My mom is a perfect planner.

She plans meals, her day, and perfect holiday get-togethers months in advance. I don’t believe her gas gauge has ever been below the half-tank mark.

This is in contrast to the way I often drive around town, on fumes and prayers I count on to coast me to the next gas station.

After leaving a preview in Valentine Ranch this week, that’s exactly what happened. I glanced down, noticing the GPS had me off-course with the gas gauge mathematically too many miles past E.

It’s hard to focus on the road or a beautiful sunshiny day when you are forced to figure out miles per gallon while also trying to get SIRI to respond in a no service area, AND your mouth cheeks are stuffed with Girl Scout cookies that keep shedding powdered sugar all over your not-white shirt.

“Dear God, get me to a gas station without running out of gas and I promise I will find someone to help in return.”

It was pretty much like the time I promised to quit smoking if I could sell that big ranch I had listed, then celebrated post-closing by lighting up.

This time, I kept my promise.

I left the station and drove a few miles down the road when I noticed a boy in black, with headphones on, walking along the side of the road. The highway hummed as other cars and trucks whizzed past. I moved everything but the box of Savannah Smiles to the backseat to make room.

“Do you need a ride?”

He looked at me, hesitating before the, “Umm…”

“I’m safe. I’m a Realtor. Do you need a ride? Where are you going?”

His answer made me smile like an amused mother.

“To work.”

“Ok,”, still smirking, “Where’s that?”

He told me and I explained it was on my way, no trouble at all. I left out my plans to snap pictures of the colorful mailboxes in Grey Forest and the For Sale sign where the painted trains were. Why did they paint those beautiful trains? My heart sank when I saw it. Did they not know I wanted to turn them into a super cool Airbnb?

Anyway, I won’t go into the details, but on the 10-mile drive it took to get to his work, we talked, he shared, and I gave him a Girl Scout cookie and the ice from my YETI.

He wrapped it in a Starbucks napkin I had shoved in the glove box and placed it on the side of his face to keep the swelling down. The bruise just under his eye was starting to surface. We talked for over an hour in the parking lot, under the sunshine of my sunroof.

I haven’t stopped thinking about him since.


The very first For Sale sign I placed in a yard was just north of Ingersoll. I was about 23, a single mom with two little girls. We drove around the block multiple times so I could see the sign with my name on it.

“Look! There it is!”

“My name!”

It occurs to me now how we spend so many years trying to make a name for ourselves, a way to be worthy, a reason to be valued. Maybe we’ve spent more time trying to be valued than we’ve spent giving value or validating the worthiness of other people.

With every passing year, I notice in myself, a decreased desire to be somebody.

Genesis says the tower of Babel was built by people who wanted to make a name for themselves. They wasted their time, energy and resources building something remarkable for all the wrong reasons. And they were scattered.

I think about my misplaced motives and misspent youth and I want that time back. But from here, I can only see today. Is the tank filled up or half-full?

What name are we running on?

I live for days like Saturday, when God orchestrates a perfect day, even in my unperfect planning. It fills my heart and reminds me where I should be most focused and ambitious.

When I was a little girl and used to go to the gas station with my mom, we ran the red Vega over a hose that triggered the bell. Promptly, someone came out with a pinkish red hand towel and began washing our windows, wiping our wipers and checked the tires.

“You doing okay today, miss?”

Self-service is really no service at all.

I miss that kind of true value.




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Posted February 5, 2018 by tinamolliefisher@gmail.com in category "Uncategorized