A Full Tank

A full tank of gas. It gets me where I want to go. And I go.

Everything in my life is measured by time. A one way trek to my workplace results in an investment of seventy minutes spent maneuvering through manageable afternoon traffic. In the evening…not so much. So, that prized full tank of gas will net three round-trips to the San Francisco Bay Area and a side trip to visit my son’s family in Sacramento.

In 2008 gas hit the highest one-day price of $4.11/gallon during the month of July. Taking a page from Alfred E. Neuman — What, Me Worry? I didn’t want to psych myself out of the business I was conducting. I wanted nothing to do with the Middle East, economics of big oil or the little guy as consumer. Conducting my studies in my last semester of college work had to go uninterrupted. Pull up to the gas-pump; select grade; pump fuel; pay exorbitant $$$…keep going without question. Repeat in a few days.

Freedom comes with a price. A tank full of gas represents freedom to travel and explore every corner of the county, as well as the next one over. Limitations are challenged and even reversed. I have not seen a return of the $4.11/gallon.
Never mind. Nothing less than a full tank will do.

For Every Action There Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction

Driving the 101 with the eventual goal of arriving in Santa Cruz. Love the beach atmosphere. High expectations of enjoying the beach boardwalk.

Did you know that double white lines separating the HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) Lane mean a driver can not drive over the lines? Well, of course you did. I didn’t get the memo. Oblivious to this traffic law, I passed over the lines while my husband pointed out that if I had just driven a little further, I could exit the lane via the opening provided at equidistant intervals, none of which I saw. Ignorance is truly bliss. But, the bliss is canceled out with a price tag.

The highway patrol involves itself in stealth maneuvers. There he was coming up behind me…and then alongside me…finally, pulled me over. He was the quiet type. Almost completely mute. Mutes bother me. He spoke just enough to point out that I had made a violation crossing over the lines.

“The signs are clearly posted. You can not cross over the lines,” he stated. What a stickler he was.

The paperwork arrived in the mail some days later. The fine for crossing over those silly, painted lines was $525.00!!

Newton’s Law and posted signs.


They exist in numerous cities. The bane of many frustrated drivers looking for a free parking space — free of charge and free as in available.

I invested a year in working with a German woman. I served as her ESL teacher while she lives here temporarily in tandem with her husband’s assignment at Roche Molecular Systems. She lives in Lafayette. For the uninitiated, Lafayette is an upscale community. Wealth. The entire Bay Area of Northern California is a reflection of the  wealth that exists among the population who, to a large degree, follow the lead that IT provides.

On visits to my student’s home, I discovered a wonderful little thrift shop. I view thrift shops as God’s way of saying, “Shop here Cyndi, you can’t go wrong.” And I don’t. A sweet, green polka-dot dress. Primary color candle-stick holders. A tie-front skirt. Greeting cards. These are a few of my finds, but I also found something else less endearing. When I pulled into the small parking lot, I found every space had a meter. Twenty-five cents will get you 3 minutes. I grumbled while I fed the meter 15 minutes worth of change. I made it my mission to mildly complain to the first clerk I found in the shop.

I questioned the lady behind the counter. “I think of Lafayette as being a wealthy community. Why do you need parking meters?” She didn’t hesitate. “Lafayette is a wealthy community because we have parking meters.” Duly noted.


“Someday you will be hired and use it because you know it. Study Spanish!”

My mom’s refrain. She used it on me multiple times while I was growing up. She hails from Guadalajara, Mexico. English is her second language, Spanish is mine. My second language was in the airwaves of my house. In seventh grade I began formal studies as Spanish was an option in my junior high. However, I never really considered treating the subject as optional. It made perfect common sense. We go with our strength. My mom’s words echoed.

By the time I entered high school my mindset was firmly rooted in the premise that I travel the path of least resistance — the path that simultaneously offered the greatest reward throughout academia. Stick to Spanish and experience the inherent payoff. I did. I was fortunate to benefit being in the classroom of the-greatest-Spanish-teacher-on-the-planet. Ms. Rumbaugh–yes! pronounced like the dance style–enhanced the pleasure of taking a seat in her classroom by virtue of every conceivable visual delight. The walls and ceiling were festooned with all manner of colorful cultural items. I spent three years in her classroom.  Spanish levels 3, 4, and 5.  There was school district criteria in place that made provision for a student’s having completed 8th grade Spanish as the equivalent of Spanish 1. Who was I to question?

The most fortuitous circumstance came as a result of my having attained the level of Spanish 5.  Two other girls and I shared the projects in our senior year that Ms. Rumbaugh deemed befitting our unique status. A glorious senior year in what had become a program tailor-made for the three of us fortunate enough to qualify. A heady experience. To add another dimension to the euphoria, I was graced with a Spanish scholarship upon my graduation.

Since that time I have gone on to teach Spanish to young students. My mom’s words echoed.

Senior Discount

Nearly everyone in my realm maintains a universally held truth — I look younger than my age indicates. A welcome bit of DNA. My sister, my mom and I reap the benefits. Armed with that glory, I revel in the assessment. A day of reckoning, however, levels the playing field. I stopped into a Taco Bell for that healthy dose of nourishment. I placed my order for a drink. Because the young clerk was obviously not well-acquainted with my reputation as one among the eternally youthful, she made a grave error.

“With senior discount that’s $1.35,” she offered.

Taken by extreme surprise, but not speechless, I asked her, “What makes you think I qualify for senior discount?” Flustered, the hapless clerk managed to produce nothing more than stammering. “Well, I mean…er…uh…oh…” She stumbled along.

Really? That’s the best you can do?  “Do I look like a senior?” That may very well have served as the height of idiocy on my part, but I was feeling reckless. In a moment of fine surrender the clerk pushed my drink closer to me and made this last conciliatory effort. “No charge!”