You call one of these.
If you don’t make the call, then you must participate in the ultimate “Fuel Systems Engineering Walk of Shame.”
At 8:51am, on I-80 in Indiana, we made the embarrassing call.
“Hello. BP Service.”
“Can we help you?”
“Yeah, I’m on I-80 in an F-150 truck and trailer with my kids and we’ve run out of gas.”
“Okay, Honey. I’ll send someone out as soon as I can."
She called me "Honey." They were very nice. I didn’t mention that my husband was driving. I didn’t point out the $150k we’ve spent on higher education - that might stand in humorous contrast to our apparent lack of common sense.
I didn’t mention that we have over 20 years of Ford engineering experience in our vehicle, mostly in fuel systems.
I sat there with a sweet smile on my face, looking at my husband, wondering if he was thinking what I was thinking.
He laughed. “I guess they finally fired him.”
“Yes,” I agreed immediately. “I certainly hope so.”
We were both on the same wavelength, continuing an ongoing conversation that has resurfaced occasionally over the past 15 years of our relationship. Without lowering myself to the depths of severe character defamation in print, let us just say that we knew an engineer at Ford that didn’t deserve the title of ‘engineer.’ And, it so happened, that this fellow worked in the fuel gauge department.
He believed that fuel gauges should read what a person wished them to show, rather than simply conveying a true measurement. You don’t really want to know that you don’t have a full tank anymore, right? That might make you sad. (This belief transferred into all parts of his character, which is rather incongruent with being an engineer. I’ll have to refrain from details, I promised to avoid severe character defamation.)
I can assure you that none of the fuel gauges in Ford vehicles I have owned have been accurate. I can also assure you that designing a reasonably accurate gauge is not a huge engineering feat.
Our F-150 has a very, very accurate fuel gauge. We have data to prove it. (We also have data regarding our gas mileage for the entire trip, but those results truly ARE shameful and resulted in our exclaiming “Holy Carbon Footprint!” See another mommy-of-MIT's post explaining how to help.)
And so, two fuel systems engineers sat on the side I-80 in Indiana, laughing and happy because Ford has finally fixed the fuel gauge problem.
With a certain sense of pride, fewer dollars in our pocket, and a mere hour lost, we once again continued down the road. The rest of the day brought only mild surprises.
There was the white plastic sheet that blew onto our windshield. Nice.
There was the half-dead deer at the semi-truck side of the rest stop. Gladys, George and I waited outside our locked truck for a few minutes watching policemen hovering around the wounded animal. They did not want to ‘put it down’ until we left. We couldn’t go anywhere until Jay returned. Lovely.
Then, there was the decision in Chicago between I-80 or I-90 to Jackson, Wyoming. The GPS claimed that one way was a full hour longer than the other.
Giddy from experiencing the rigid accuracy of our fuel gauge, we lost all sense of logic.
We took the long way and never looked back.