072:336 Petrol

I nearly ran out of gas this morning.

On my way to work, about nineteen miles from my office, my fuel gauge light lit up. Now, the car that I was driving was bought six months ago so it and I are not quite acclimated as to how far the car can drive when the orange light next to the “E” comes alive.

I figured I had about a gallon left in the tank and my history (albeit a brief history) with this car let me know it consumed a gallon of gas for every twenty miles.

So I was fine.

I wanted to make it to my office without stopping because the gas station near my place of employment sells unleaded for about twenty cents a gallon cheaper than the stations near my house.

At about five miles to go, at a stop light, I took this picture because I knew what today’s story would be about.

GasGauge (1)

That’s pretty low.

I did make it to the gas station and filled the car up and it took 18.8 gallons. The owner’s manual claims the capacity of my car’s fuel tank is 21 gallons, so according to my math, I still had 44 miles I could have gone.

Like I said, I was fine.

Now in the United Kingdom, gas is known as “petrol”. In fact, even though citizens of the United States and citizens of Great Britain speak the same English language, we have different words for certain objects.

There is the above mentioned gas-petrol difference. Also, our “trunk” of a car is called a “boot” across the pond. In London, people drive a “lorry” while in Los Angeles, they drive a “truck”. An “elevator” to an American is a “lift” to a Brit.

The differences run the range of the dictionary from “A” to “Z” (or “Zed” if you’re British).

While thinking of all the different words we and our cousins across the Atlantic have for the same objects, it reminded me of a story that occurred when I was a junior in high school.

This is that story.

In our drama class, we had an exchange student who hailed from England.

She came into the theater one day trying to understand why she had made the students in her English class laugh so hard while at the same time making one boy blush a deep crimson.

Our drama teacher asked her to describe what happened.

“I was at my desk,” she began. “When I realized I had forgotten one of my supplies. So, I tapped the shoulder of the boy in front of me and asked him if he had a rubber I could borrow.”

Everyone within earshot of her explanation began to guffaw loudly or work hard to stifle a laugh – except our teacher who understood.

Her husband was British and so our teacher took our exchange student aside to explain that in America, we call what she wanted an “eraser”.

That’s the story.

P.S. I have always wondered if our drama teacher also took the time to explain to her what a “rubber” in the American lingo meant, but that’s a story for another day.


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