Another brutal winter storm decimates the nation's capitol.
Her house was crowded, and yet no one could figure out how to fix the thermostat. The temperature was a toasty 78 degrees or so. Even with the tape and towels and other things they had used to block the cold air from breaking in, it made no sense to any of them.
No matter how fierce the wind blew, there was no draft.
How long would the oil last? Surely not long as cold as it was and as high as the thermostat was set to.
And how was it that it also seemed so warm in the house? Sure, there were a few extras in the house, but it still made no sense. The thermostat said 78, but it felt even warmer than that.
Later on, there was a knock at the door. The roads had been cleared enough so that the oil trucks were coming. As a wave of warm air escaped, Mary asked the driver to please come in. Clearly he wasn't happy.
"Ma'am," he said, "You were supposed to turn your heat down. I am supposed to provide oil only for those who are really desperate, but you seem determined to waste it."
"No, I didn't mean to waste any. My thermostat broke and it won't go lower."
"Oh, well, I am going to try to dig through to your tank and see if I can put more oil in."
A couple able-bodied nephews helped make short work of the effort to clear a path through several feet of snow to the back of the house where the oil tank was located. Never mind the fact that they had already made a path a few hours before. That's how much snow was falling still, drifting, seemingly burying everything.
"This can't be the only oil tank," he said. The oil truck deliveryman as he stomped his feet on the front porch. "Does she have one in the basement or something? This makes no sense."
There was no basement though.
This time, he accepted the invite to come in and warm up. He was certain there had to be another oil tank. He had even pulled a plastic sticker off the cap that had stated how many months ago the tank was filled up.
It was then that Mary and the others learned what the oil deliveryman had just found out.
The oil tank was completely full.
Only God knows why some oil tanks stayed full that year, but others ran dry and people froze to death in the bitterest winter storm any of them had ever experienced.