A recent news story brought back a memory from long ago.
It seems young man in Australia blew up some cars and burned away his britches because he was smoking a cigarette while siphoning off gas.
I have a healthy respect for the power of gasoline, drilled into me by the leaders of my Boy Scout troop when I was but a lad.
I remembered an encounter with a tub of gasoline years ago.
I was apartment hunting. There were no rentals in the classifieds so I went knocking on doors to try and find a rental.
I ended up on the edge of town where I saw two guys working on a car under a shade tree.
I moseyed on over to where they were.
The two had removed the car’s gas tank. But before they had done that they had drained the gasoline from the tank … into a big tub … that they were sitting next to … both enjoying a refreshing cigarette.
Should I turn and run or appear “cool,” talk to the guys … then run like hell.
I chose the latter.
“I was wondering if you know of any rooms for rent around here,” I said.
“Nawww,” said one guy, enjoying his refreshing cigarette, about 6 feet from the tub of gas.
“Well OK,” I said.
But then, I just had to ask.
“Don’t you think those cigarettes might set that gas on fire?”
The men looked at each other then looked at me.
“Gas don’t light unless you got an open flame,” said one guy.
“I can flick my smoke in that tub and it won’t catch on fire,” said the other.
“That’s not what I heard,” I said
“You wanna bet?” said the first one, starting to stand.
“Hey guys, just asking,” I said smiling.
As I walked away there was a part of me that wondered what might’ve happened if he’d flicked that cigarette in that tub. Part of me still does.