People often say: “I need gas.” Unless you are pulled over on the side of the road because you’re out of fuel, it’s a subjective assessment. How you make it reflects more than your need for gasoline.

I think how you respond to your gas gauge is an indicator of the kind of margin that you allow for other things in your life. When my tank is at half, I begin to get itchy until I can fill it up again. Others don’t even consider stopping until the fuel indicator light has been on for days. Still others have different comfort levels, preferring to keep it as close to topped off as possible or being content to wait until the needle nears the “E”.

I would guess that those of us who fill up early do other things early as well. Those who wait until later push other aspects of their lives to the maximum. People who ignore the warning signs aren’t driven by the details of other things.

There are trade-offs to each style: the do-gooders waste time making multiple trips to the pump, and those who wait too long risk inconvenience when they have to get gas even if it isn’t the best time/weather/price for them to do so. But we all adapt to a style that works for us.

The next time you’re trying to get a quick indicator of how someone operates, ask them the gas gauge question. The answer will help align what you can expect from your ride with them.

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