Years ago, while working at Apple, I would go into work very early – leaving my house before 6 am so I could get off early to be with my sons to support them in their sports.
This one morning my husband was going to take my car into the shop for me – so I was going to drive his van to work. Halfway there, and the morning is still dark, the van starts to sputter and then stopped. Completely.
Thankfully I was able to get to the side of the freeway safely. Cars were flying by me at 80 miles an hour and I look at the gas gauge and it read a big E. E as in EMPTY.
This was my second time ever driving his van. I didn’t even know where the gas tank was…but I do remember I was wearing white pants. I had to hike to a gas station walking in the bushes and shrubs as far away from the freeway traffic as possible.
After hiking to the gas station and hiking back to the van with a borrowed gas can – I filled the van with a gallon of gas to get me to the station and fill it up…I got to work about 8:30 am….2.5 hours after leaving for work.
I was exhausted along with many other feelings. I was grateful to my husband for taking my car to the shop for me. But I was fuming mad he had left me with a van with only fumes of gas…
In his defense he tried to catch me as I drove off to tell me to get gas, but didn’t catch me in time. Those were the days before cell phones and he had no way to reach me. I find all this out AFTER running out of gas and AFTER hiking to the gas station and back, and AFTER arriving at work 2.5 hours later than I planned – in my no longer, “quite so white” pants.
I wanted to vent, I wanted to scream, but I was also grateful which left me very conflicted…I didn’t know how to process all the conflicted feelings I was feeling. Finally, I chose to use humor to help me process. Humor and a bit of revenge…
I drove that van with now a full tank of gas, to K-Mart and bought a metal gas can that looked like this…
I then drove to a local florist shop and asked the florist to fill the can with red and yellow carnations and send it to my husband at work…the florist paused, he looked at me and asked
“Were you walking along the 280 Freeway this morning?”
Ahhhh the florist had seen me walking in my white pants….oh my goodness! That was all the reward I needed for all the anxiety I had experienced on my way to work. It was precious, it was priceless. And we laughed together.
The whip cream on the top of the day was the reaction and questions my husband got all day long from the people in his office to the flowers sitting on his desk, in a red gas can.
It was the best response I have ever created to any frustrating challenge in my life. I am still laughing about it today. I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream, I didn’t create any damage with my response, to something that felt awful and scary to me – at the time…
I used humor to create a fun response, that paid dividends well beyond my wildest dreams.
The florist seeing me on his way to work, and then my husband walking in from work carrying a gas can of flowers he had to explain all day – was the best gift ever.
In retrospect – thankfully I was wearing white pants – they might have just saved my life as I hiked along the side of the freeway in the dark.