Dear, you'll never believe why we're late … by Bob Karolevitz The trip started out pleasantly enough.
We had gone to Mitchell where several of our friends were inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. From there we were going to Brookings for a ball game.
We had met up with another couple at the Hall of Fame affair, and the women decided that they would drive to Brookings alone in the Taurus. The men, they decreed, would go by themselves in the pickup.
And so there we were, a couple of guys tooling down Interstate 90 without a care in the world. Like fellows do, we talked about politics, the pros and cons of the universities going to Division I and how things had changed in the newspaper business through the years.
As a matter of fact, we were so engrossed in conversation that we missed the exit to Interstate 29.
�Well, we�ll just turn around and go back,� said my undisturbed friend, �but first we should stop at a gas station and get a couple cans of pop.�
We did, but neither of us thought about looking at the gas gauge which was already hovering near the empty mark. Calmly we got back into the truck and continued our discussion, sipping our sodas and laughing about how our wives would regale us for missing the turn.
But that was just the half of it!
The fuel got us through Minnehaha County all right, but in that long stretch between the Dell Rapids turnoff and the Highway 34 intersection, the vehicle sputtered to a stop. We were out of gas.
Without even a hint of mule-skinner�s language, my gallant friend, whose truck it was, said he would hitchhike to the Colman corner � white shirt, necktie and all. I was to stay and guard the pickup which wasn�t going anywhere and which was a heck of a lot easier for me to do.
It wasn�t until later that I learned that the 10 mile trek was fraught with a whole new set of miseries.
First off, a kind gentleman from Brookings recognized my friend and stopped to give him a ride. Besides that, he offered to bring him back once he got the gasoline. Unfortunately, it was more complicated than that.
There are two stations at the Colman corner. At the first, the attendant said they had no containers for emergency use. �Maybe the guy on the other side of the road has something,� he suggested.
So my buddy crossed over to the station/convenience store and asked for a can to take a gallon of petrol back to his out-of-gas truck.
Wouldn�t you know? They didn�t have a container either. Somebody had stolen theirs.
Being a quick thinker, my traveling companion learned that they were selling water in gallon jugs, so he bought one. For $1.69 plus tax.
He spilled out the water and filled the plastic container with a gallon of gas. For $1.399. It was more than 30 cents cheaper. (He said later that he could have bought a gallon of milk, and it would have been even less expensive.)
The Good Samaritan who had given him a ride had waited patiently all this time, and he generously provided the return trip. That�s when my friend got generous, too. He had the driver turn off at a crossing a mile or so up the Interstate so he wouldn�t have to go all the way back to the Dell Rapids corner. He would walk the rest of the way.
That�s how I saw him coming down the road � white shirt, necktie flapping in the breeze and with the water jug full of gas. I would have driven up to meet him, but the fuel-less truck wouldn�t start.
Needless to say, we finally got to Brookings without further difficulty. Oh, there was an episode with a highway patrolman along the way, but that�s another story.
The women were waiting for us, and we made up a cock-and-bull alibi which temporarily covered our shenanigans, but we finally had to admit what really happened.
All I know is that my friend will never hear the end of it.
� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz