Events can start building, on a given day, and lead to conclusions that you never, never could dream of.
Lorraine and I were gong to Potomac, MD for the 70th and 75th birthdays of my two brothers-in-law. We left at 7 a.m. for the 260-mile drive. The dreaded Jersey Turnpike awaited us. I had in my fuel tank "a quarter of a tank" of gasoline.
Everybody knows that gas in Jersey is 25 to 30 cents cheaper per gallon, than in our over-taxed State of New York. I decided that I would make it to New Jersey and fill up on the Turnpike. I would save somewhere between $6 and $7. I did not relay this plan to Lorraine. To Lorraine the tank is empty even though it reads full. She is very cautious.
There was traffic on the Belt Parkway. There always is. Over the Verazzano Bridge I noticed my "quarter of a tank" was now an "eighth of a tank." I was concerned but not worried. Lorraine had not yet checked the fuel gauge.
Somewhere in Staten Island near the old garbage dumps, that little empty light flashed on. It did so with a loud "ping" that alerted my wife. "You have no gas!" she exclaimed loudly! "I have enough to get to a gas station in Jersey. You have at least two more gallons when that light flashes on," I replied.
Over the Outerbridge Bridge we drove and Lorraine started increasing the volume. "Get gas now!" was her rallying cry. "Just a few more miles," I pleaded.
The entrance number 10 on the Jersey Pike had no gas station. Nor, did Exit #9. By this time Lorraine was at the top of her vocal range, singing the same tune. At this point I screamed back loudly, "Don't worry!"
Somewhere between Exits 9 and 8 (where the Pike narrows to only three lanes from six) a Sunoco station appeared. "Thank God!' I uttered internally. We took 16 1/2 gallons and my Intrepid holds 18 gallons. No sweat.
Was it all that screaming? Was it the tension of possibly running out of gas? Anyhow, my chest started to bother me. Was it gas (not petrol) or was I having a heart attack? I was not sure, so I took an antacid.
As we drove to the Delaware Memorial Bridge I was not feeling better. I took out my emergency nitroglycerine tablets and I popped one into my mouth. No relief. Somewhere in Delaware I popped another nitro, but this time Lorraine saw me take it.
Lorraine: "Are you having a heart attack?"
Stanley: "I don't know."
The pain was nagging, but not like my previous heart attack in 1996. No jaw pain, no pain down the left arm, no sweating and no crunching feel in the chest. Only a nagging pain.
When we arrived in Potomac, MD my nephew Gene was waiting for me. He is an emergency room physician. "Take one more Nitro and we will wait 10 minutes." After the third tablet I still had a nagging tickling in my chest.
During the party and after the singing of Happy Birthday, Gene whisked me off to his hospital. Within a half-hour I had tubes up my nose, a clamp on my finger and EKG stickers all over my chest.
All blood results looked normal. No enzymes found.
I was feeling better just lying on that Gurney bed.
However, when the cardiologist arrived he pronounced that I must spend the night while they did more tests. I pleaded, "I feel fine, please don't hospitalize me!" No use. I spent the night in the hospital.
All night they woke me for more blood and more EKGs.
The next day I was extremely nervous. Besides hating the hospital confinement I had to get back to Jericho, a six-hour drive. Because the cardiologist could not come before 2 p.m., I checked myself out of the hospital, against doctor's orders. I was feeling better.
On the way home I kept the gas tank above full.
I recounted all the trouble I had - the screaming - the nausea - the overnight hospital stay - the aggravation.
All for "A Quarter of a Tank."