My first cross-country drive. I was a teenager in a SHO. I-80 West in Utah, heading to San Francisco.

I’d planned to get gas in Salt Lake City. My chosen gas station in Salt Lake City had a line (hmm, I wonder why!). I was like, “fuck this, I’ll just get gas somewhere on the highway.”

In the Great Salt Desert.

By the time I saw a sign that said “next services, X miles,” I was already at least X miles out of Salt Lake City, so no purpose to turn back.

A town! A town popped up! I pulled off the highway. The town had no gas station.

Back onto the highway. Pulled out my trusty atlas (fucking remember those?). Next town on the map was Wendover. Running up my roaming analog cellphone bill, I called 411 and got the phone number to non-emergency police in Wendover.

-Wendover police.
—Hi, I’m on I-80, low on gas. I’m just wondering, is there a gas station in Wendover?
-Yeah, there’s a gas station in Wendover.
—Can you guys — umm — I guess I’ll call you again if I actually run out. [I don’t know what I was expecting from them when I started asking that question; coming out to meet me with a can of gas somewhere on I-80 I guess?]

So. Emergency flashers on. Cruise control at an ungodly 57 MPH or so. A/C off at a billion degrees. When the Shell station was in sight, I knew I could at least walk from there.

Made it. Filled up. It was like taking an hours-awaited pee, or like a thirsty desert wanderer getting water, or whatever.

Ever since then, I’m kind of paranoid about running out.