The Perils of Getting Gas

A year into my role as a suburban US driver, I made an alarming discovery. Getting gas without turning off my cell phone is forbidden.

I was filling up at our local station from the middle pump (a nice compromise between the top of the line gas, and the cheapest) and noticed this warning sign: apparently, when pumping gas, customers are supposed to turn off their mobile phones, as well as “other electronic devices.”

Really? It had never occurred to me to do this. And if I were to hunt around for my phone in my handbag, pull it out, and turn it off, I would surely drop the pump, and cause a big spill.

That was a scary thought, as another sign informed me that I was responsible for spilled gas. (For cleaning it up? Or just paying for it? The sign was unclear, but I didn’t want to find out).

The more obvious warnings are easy to follow: customers are not supposed to light matches or cigarettes while pumping gas. Open flames certainly seemed to be bad ideas in close proximity to gas pumps – but cell phones?

I looked over at another customer, who did not appear to turn off his electronic devices before pumping. Instead, he seemed to wonder why I was looking at him.

Maybe the main reason for the signs is to give drivers something to read while they procure gas. Otherwise, standing there holding the pump can get dull.

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