This really happens

Ransom Riggs

Cars and gas stations and gas pumps have all been around for plenty of years, but for some reason, lately, I've been hearing an awful lot about one particular kind of disaster involving the unfortunate intersection of all three: people driving off while the gas pump is still sticking out of their tank. (This irate photocopied sign was stuck to every pump at an Arco station I visited yesterday; the first of its kind I've seen anywhere. Apparently gas stations have seen an uptick in this sort of accident, too.)

Not only that, it happened to a friend of mine last month, and his story, I think, proves my theory of why this is happening now more than ever: distraction. If it's not cell phones (which gas stations warn you not to use while pumping ... for "fire danger" reasons) it's something else. For instance, in Los Angeles, already the billboard capitol of the world, they've been installing these ridiculously distracting digital billboards all over town, that either show full-motion video or scroll through a series of still images every few seconds. It's one of the latter that the friend in question was gawking at while pumping gas last month -- and when he got home, he noticed a funny new souvenir protruding from his open gas tank: the pump handle.

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Has this happened to anyone else -- and if so, were you on the phone, or otherwise distracted at the time?

Illustrative image #2 photographed by Shawn Wallace of DoodleGirl.