Yes, this story is just as crazy as it sounds. But before you read, promise me one thing.
Don’t tell my mom.
I’ll set the scene: It’s last summer, 7 a.m. and the traffic in London is completely jam-packed with commuters on their way to their jobs. Cars are honking, engines are revving. My cousin and I were frantic in the backseat as we realize our flight left not at 8:30, but at 8 a.m. Her husband tried to maintain control of the wheel as we lost control of our emotions.
We were going to miss our flight to Paris.
Then, my cousin suggested, “We could take the ferry to France.”
It was already an adult move for us 19-year-olds to fly to Paris, but to drive five plus hours through the countryside, could we do it? We just had to persuade her husband to consider plan B.
We used all the rhetorical devices in constructing our argument. First, we used the fluffiest language to set the scene while all but plagiarizing “Lady and the Tramp.” We said things like, “Can’t you imagine sauntering through the timeless city, looking at those statuesque buildings while the scent of croissant wafts through the air? Can’t you hear the accordion and see those dogs eating spaghetti?”
We rebuttled his argument about the drive taking too long with “driving through the countryside will be worth the time difference.” We negotiated driving times as well, a little give and take. We were passionate and persistent in our begging. These strategies all amounted to the perfect recipe for success. We won.
And honestly, even after what you will read below, I am still glad we ended up missing that flight.
A ways down the road and after crossing on the ferry from England to France, we decided to stop for gas.
A mistake. A colossal mistake.
We knew there would be a language barrier throughout the countryside of course, but we didn’t know how dangerous it could end up being.
Right when we pulled up to the gas station, we noticed the nozzles were in French (of course). Long story short, we ended up with diesel gas in our non-diesel tank.
Now the issue was asking someone at an auto shop for a siphon to get the gas out. Desperately, we used Google Translate to ask him. Had any of us any slight knowledge of French before we went, maybe he would have found one for us. We knew they had siphons.
To be more convincing, I suppose we also could have explained just how stuck we were in this situation. We didn’t know anyone, were hours from our destination and didn’t speak the language. Maybe if we had stressed this, we would have appealed to his emotions.
Had we been better at charades, maybe that too would have helped cross that language barrier. However, we were all terrible at charades, so no siphon for us.
Eventually we got the gas out from the gas line (or something like that, I’m not a car person) through a store bought tube, a bowl and our mouths.
Eight hours later and two more times using Google Translate with locals, us stupid teenagers found the glowing lights of Paris, and our Airbnb. People from every country in the world walked the streets, and we no longer had to translate to French. The white stone city and its ancient architecture was truly more beautiful than a Disney dog movie could do justice (although there was a lot of spaghetti).
Some roads are rough, sometimes you get stuck along the way (and have to siphon gas out of your car), but you can’t turn back, especially when that road leads to Paris.