I was riding into work this past Thursday evening and it occurred to me as I approached Key West my odometer on the Bonneville was reading 128 miles. I had a few minutes in hand after a relatively brisk ride into town behind some fast moving cages so I pulled into the Key Haven Shell station (shown below) to fill up. My Triumph has a four gallon (U.S.) tank and it tends to hit the reserve portion of the tank, the last full gallon, close to 134 miles so I figured to fill up as I could make a quick stop and not be late for work. I should never have bothered. The pump squeezed 0.15 of a gallon of unleaded into my gaping tank and then dried up. I looked at my watch and figured if I was futzing around too long trying to get gas out of the pump I might end up late to work, and I'm too anal for that to happen so I got going and figured I could simply get gas on the way home in the morning. Then a weird thing happened.
The Big Coppitt Shell is on the south side of the Overseas Highway at Mile Marker Ten making it a good stop on my way home for a quick refill. I pulled into the forecourt and saw vehicles refueling at every pump except the far one, which became the one I aimed for immediately. I soon discovered why there was no car at that pump: it was out of service as denoted by the sign and the big gray trash can upended in front of it with two orange cones. In the picture below it would be the pump nearest the camera. The 24 hour Big Coppitt Circle K convenience store is major shopping center in this community and there is always a line for groceries and beer as well as gas so I figured this was not going to be a quick credit card stop and I had better press on. I wasn't really worried about running out of gas but to get this low was annoying, especially after two efforts to fill up.
I found my wife feeling rather sorry for herself at the gym, her ankle encased in ice and ready to go home. I figured a trip to the ER was in order, more for peace of mind than anything as she was able to hobble to the car, but her shoulder that had been operated on previously was unable to raise her arm very high at all. I immediately decided that to drive 15 minutes further was the better choice and I aimed my wife's car for Marathon, not Lower Keys Medical Center a dismal apology for a hospital on Stock Island. We've been to Fisherman's Hospital before and the Marathon staff are always helpful and cheerful and take you in immediately. We've sat in the waiting room at Lower keys for forty minutes the "receptionist" glowering at us like we were an intrusion and being completely unhelpful.
Certainly the receptionist at Marathon's Fishermen's Hospital was kind and made herself available immediately but the heat in the reception area was appalling. It took me embarrassingly long to realise that the front doors were open for a reason, and that reason was that on this stiflingly hot night the air conditioning system was broken. How the staff remained as cheerful as they did I don't know because summer has arrived with a vengeance and being inside that ER was like being underwater. I grew gills to keep breathing the hot humid air as my wife filled out the admission form. She had to hand over her insurance card and we haven't yet received the gruesome co-pay bill but the idea so far is the gym will kindly take care of out of pocket expenses. The sign on the wall was a reminder of the uncomfortable truth that our capitalist system is here to fleece us not to serve us, especially as it is the insurance companies making the money not the doctors and hospitals anymore:
I doubt there are any discounts for broken air conditioning. The evening went much as you might imagine, with an arrival well before dark and a departure around nine pm as I recall. My wife had an x-ray (ka-ching!) - nothing broken, and a the nurse installed a sling (ka-ching!)- and gave my wife a couple of pills to see us through the night (ka-ching!) and the doctor went over the various bruises and joints to make sure they worked and then we were off. And very glad to get back into a chilled car we were too. As is the way with the medical profession no costs were mnetioned at the time, billing is mysterious covert and unanswerable. Supposedly all that will change next year when the Affordable Care Act kicks in.
And to wrap up this extra long tale of gasoline woe I decided to add a gratuitous pretty flower picture. Just because.