Diatribe: The One About The Smoker At The Gas Pump.
Like most youngsters, I was fascinated with fire. Not a pyromaniacal or destructive fascination but a scientific and chemical fascination. I loved to learn what fuels produced different colored flames, how hot the coals beneath might become, how much oxygen was required to allow the flames to reach a specific height. I marvelled at how quickly forest fires could spread and how difficult some fires could be to extinguish.
In the process, I learned how powerful and dangerous fire can be.
In January 25, 2005, I experienced the most frightening night of my life as I stood in my yard and watched my house burn. Amazingly, firefighters were able to save my home with minimal damage. I was lucky.
In the process, I learned to respect the awesome capabilities of flames.
That’s why a recent encounter at a filling station aggravated me. As I began to fill my gas tank, I noticed that a man was standing on the other side of the pump, presumably filling his car as well, while smoking a cigarette. At first, I glared at him and put the nozzle back onto the pump. But then he gave me a dirty look which prompted the following exchange.
“What are you lookin’ at?” said the stranger at the next pump.
“You know it’s very dangerous to smoke in a gas station. There are fumes that can ignite.” I replied.
“Dude, I’m not in the mood for you!” he snarled as he flicked his lit cigarette against the base of the gas pump.
“Did you REALLY just flick your lit cigarette at the gas pump? Are you trying to get us both killed?!”
“Leave me alone!” he said.
“You need to think about leaving right now before I call the police.”
As I reached for my cell phone he jumped in his car and sped away. I made sure that his cigarette was no longer smoldering on the ground and then approached the only station employee on duty to tell him what had happened. The attendant was very grateful and thanked me several times for speaking up.
Gas pumps have warning labels on them for a reason. Smoking while pumping gas is very dangerous, and it’s illegal, but attendants like the one I met that day say that it happens far too often and that far too many people ignore the danger. If you see someone smoking at a gas pump, speak up … the people who work there will appreciate you saving their lives.
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