I was joking around a couple of weeks ago when I gave you the public service announcement, but please consider this one quite real.
At my job, I’m lucky enough to really love almost everyone I work with. That’s why what recently happened to my best work friend made me so angry. My friend, who I’ll call Laurabelle (because she recently completed the first draft of her first manuscript that she’ll be publishing under the pseudonym Laurabelle), got a call from her husband a couple of weeks ago telling her that her son had a health scare and was taken to the emergency room via ambulance.
Laurabelle lives nearly an hour away from work, and the hospital where her son went was slightly further than that. She was so upset when she got the call that she couldn’t drive. Our boss’ wife took her to meet her husband.
Because they were at the hospital until late into the evening, Laurabelle didn’t come back for her car that night, and it stayed in our office’s parking lot which is a bit off the beaten path and not well lit after dark.
The following afternoon, Laurabelle’s husband dropped her off at my house after work, and after we visited a while, I took her to the office so she could pick up her car and take it home.
Now, I have to interject here that only one month prior, Laurabelle started the patch to give up smoking. She’d tried several more times earlier in the year, and those times, she only lasted a couple of days, but this time, she was really doing it. I was so proud of her when she made it through her son’s medical trauma without needing a cigarette. You’ll see why this is so important in a moment.
Anyway, I dropped Laurabelle off at her car, and she started on her way home. About a mile from our office is a toll road, but shortly after she paid the entrance toll, she noticed her van was running almost out of gas. So she took the very next exit and made it to a gas station where she pumped $20 worth of fuel. However, soon after she pulled out of the gas station parking lot, she looked down and saw that again, her tank registered as nearly empty. She coasted into a muffler repair shop next door and had them look at her van while she called her husband.
Laurabelle’s husband happens to be a mechanic by trade, so he spoke to the muffler man who determined that there was a hole in the gas tank! The muffler man put a temporary plug in the hole which was enough to get her home. He said that because gas tanks are plastic these days, she might have hit a rock or something that caused the damage.
But that weekend when Laurabelle’s husband removed the gas tank, he discovered that there were actually two holes. Furthermore, they didn’t just happen by accident, but they were made with a drill! He said that it’s not uncommon these days for vandals to drill holes in a gas tank to siphon gas. He said they probably drilled the first hole then realized that the tank wasn’t as full as they’d thought, so they had to drill a lower hole to get all the gas.
The holes could not simply be patched, and the entire tank had to be replaced. Because he’s a mechanic and could purchase the tank at cost, it only cost them $800! Insurance won’t cover anything because they don’t specifically have a vandalism clause in their policy.
I’m just thankful that Laurabelle was on the patch when this happened. Prior to quitting smoking, her first impulse would’ve been to light up a cigarette after work and hold her hand out the window as she drove. Can you imagine how long it would have taken for her to have killed herself
if when a spark hit that leaking gas?
This pisses me off on numerous levels, but mostly because people today can be such assholes! (Pardon my foul language, but I’m really angry about this!) Back when I was a kid, sure, I knew some jerks who siphoned gas (and, no, I wasn’t one of them), but they did it the “appropriate” way, with a garden hose and their own lungs to start the suction. The most it ever cost anyone was a ten dollar tank of gas and maybe a bit of time off work if they left the next morning and didn’t have enough gas to make it to work.
Of course, if we ever siphoned gas when we were kids, it was only an actual tragedy if it caused someone to miss work or another important event such as a job interview, or perhaps worse if the car owner was an on-call doctor and they missed getting to the hospital in time to save a life. Or if it happened to be a pregnant woman in labor, then that was definitely a tragedy. But for the most part, a ten dollar tank of gas was the worst of the damages, and it was only ten bucks’ worth of damage if the tank was full.
The vandals these days are beyond evil! Not even counting the possibility of a full tank of gas (which can now be upwards of forty dollars), replacing a gas tank, if you do not have the luxury of being married to a mechanic, will be in the thousands! And if the person starts their car and happens to smoke with a gas tank that’s pouring out fuel – or if they even happen to drive past someone else who smokes and tosses their cigarette out the car window – can you imagine just how many people could have been injured, if not killed? And worse yet, if this had happened the month before when we were in the midst of a drought, and a fire ensued, it could’ve cost homeowners near the road their houses, land, or lives!
Anyway, as you can see, I’m still quite upset about this, and I wanted to pass along the warning for you all to watch where you park your vehicles, and check (and smell) under them before you drive after you’ve left them overnight. (We only noticed the next day the large puddle of gas where Laurabelle’s van had been parked.) Be safe, my friends!
Time to talk: Did you ever do something sneaky as a kid that you regret as an adult? Have you ever met an adult who tells stories of being deceitful as a kid, and they still seem actually proud of it rather than remorseful? Did you know vandals drilled holes to siphon gas these days?