If I were to put a bumper sticker on my car, which I won’t, it would likely read “I brake for tamales.”

Ahhh, tamales, so good they can transform a hated chore.

This morning after dropping my grandson Lucas off at his school on Sonoma Ave. in Santa Rosa, I had to get gas, one of my least favorite chores. I really really hate it. It’s right down there with cleaning up after my cat coughs up a giant hairball and over the years I have considered moving to Oregon simply because it is illegal there to pump your own gas.

For the past year or so, I’ve  always checked the lowest gas prices of the day before filling. I also try to plan errands around the location with the best prices. Lately, the best gas prices have been on Sebastopol Rd., at either Roseland Gas Mart or Quik Stop, both of which are between Stony Point Rd. and Dutton Ave., an easy stop on my way to or from Lucas’s school. Until today, I’ve always filled up in the afternoon, as I tend to put it off as long as possible. Running on fumes? Time to drag myself to the gas station.

This morning, I took the Dutton exit off Highway 12, turned onto Dutton and almost immediately saw a tamale stand. I passed a few others, each surrounded by fragrant steam and hungry customers, before I got to the Roseland Gas Mart, where the price is $3.99 a gallon, or at least it was this morning. I filled up my VW Beetle and was heading out when I noticed a tamale stand right there, near the exit!

For better or worse (probably better), I had just $2.00 in cash, enough to get me one tamale, with 50 cents left over to drop into the tip cup.

In just a few minutes, I was on my way home with a hot tender tamale queso con salsa verde filling the car with evocative aromas that even got the puppies excited. The radio was cooperating, too, with “Werewolves of London,” “I Fought the Law” (The Clash’s version), “Stayin’ Alive” and “Mrs. Robinson.”

In that moment, my habit of waiting until the last possible second to get gas was transformed. I may not even bother to check prices any more, as the promise of a tamale queso on a pretty spring morning in Sonoma County is just too inviting to pass up.

Is there something that makes this chore less annoying for you? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

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  1. Kemosabe Utah

    I love your article. I just got a new app for my phone named “gas buddy” that one can put in different zip codes for the lowest gas prices. So far it has been accurate for my area. Now if I can only find a app with the smell of tamales……….heaven.

    February 28th, 2013 3:50 pm

  2. Terry Oden

    The only thing that makes getting gas so onerous are the prices (I used to fill the tank in my first car for 15¢/gallon — yes that was a long time ago!). There are four gas stations on one of my regular routes. I price them out as I go by in one direction and fill up at the cheapest one on the way back. Now, tho’, you’ve got me thinking I should find a new route that takes me past a tamale stand. Tamale queso con salsa verde is making my mouth water!

    February 28th, 2013 4:47 pm

  3. Lynn

    When I saw gas and food I thought you were asking if I didn’t like getting physical gas! I was hoping you had a food that didn’t create gas. Too funny! I remember when we went from having gas station attendants, like they still have in Oregon, to getting to do it ourselves! I recall feeling powerful somehow, being able to gas up my own car! I think it happened around the same era we became feminists, burned our bras, etc., so no, I don’t mind it at all. Now, how did that tamale set with your tummy? ;-)

    March 1st, 2013 8:59 am

  4. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    Lynn, thanks for a different perspective. I remember pumping my own gas for the first time in the mid to late 70s, during the first gas crisis. Suddenly, there were two options, pump it yourself or pay more for an attendant to pump it. And as far as that tamale goes, it was just perfect.

    March 1st, 2013 11:29 am

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