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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Cosmic retribution may be certain, but it is certainly not swift. At least, not usually. I should know: I've been skating along, dodging payback for years, but it may finally be catching up with me.

I was working A's hobby Saturday, driving daughters to and from soccer and ballet. As we passed Outokumpu American Brass I saw that the fuel gauge needle was hovering right above "E" so I switched the display above the rear view mirror from "Temperature/Direction" to "Distance to Empty". It read, "12 mi."

"Ha ha!" I said. "Now I am going to drive around with DTE on, running out of gas, just to annoy LCA!" This had the desired effect: "FAther!" she complained, "Buy gas!" Things continued on in this vein for another mile or so; I pulled into one gas station, then pulled out, in part to continue the tease, but also because Regular was $2.12. I figured I'd go to the Delta Sonic three or four blocks away, where the gas was likely to be the least expensive in the area.

You know how there is a little slope at the Delta Sonic on Delaware that rises up from the sidewalk to the pumps? That was where we were, waiting for a pump to open up, when the van conked out. It was raining, so the pavement was slick from the detergent runoff from the car wash, and it took three other guys and me to get the van to the pump, with CLA at the wheel. I have never seen such swift karmic payback.

Sensing that Fortuna's wheel was spinning against me, I immediately set out to make things right with the universe. Once we had dropped LCA off at dance, I turned to CLA: "Want a driving lesson?" Of course she did, so we found an empty parking lot, and commenced her initiation into the rites of the fraternity of internal combustion. Of course, this meant that EGA had to have a lesson as well-- she is actually old enough to drive, and may well have her license by the time she goes back to school. For now, if they are being pursued by Nazis, they will be able to get into a car and drive away to make their escape, just like in the movies. I have always regarded that as the basic minimum of knowing how to drive.

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