November 12, 2012 by Jen
A weighty question has been on my mind since last night. It is a question that has troubled the great thinkers of the world since ages past. Drum roll, please.
Why does every gasoline station feel it necessary to warn consumers not, under any circumstances, to siphon gasoline using their mouths?
I’m sure there’s an entirely logical reason. Such as…Sixty years ago, the gas pump was not working, and some poor soul was desperately trying to siphon gasoline by mouth into his Model-T. He was late for an appointment with a shoe salesman. He got gasoline poisoning and then spontaneously combusted, and his relatives sued the gas company for a million dollars, because that was a lot of money back then. The gas company, owned by a grandmother from Detroit, promptly went bankrupt, having only $999,999.99 saved in Mason jars under the doghouse and being too proud to borrow a penny from her wealthy grandson, and from that time hence, all gas stations must prominently post that warning in order to avoid a similar fate.
Or at least, I like to imagine that that’s how the story goes.
The real story is probably mundane and uninteresting. Such as…Forty years ago, a young woman was too poor to afford brandy for her Thanksgiving guests’ after-dinner libation. Without brandy, the young woman’s new mother-in-law would ramble for hours about the price of gasoline, the fashions of young people these days, and the state of her begonias. In self-defense, the young woman went for advice to the church phone circle (the 1970s equivalent of WebMD or Wikipedia). One of the elders’ wives swore that, when mingled with saliva, gasoline was indistinguishable from high-end brandy. You know the rest of the story: American consumers have been burdened with the consequences ever since.
It’s a sad, sad story. You may now rest your head upon your desk and weep. I did.
Also, FYI, this exists: SafetySiphon — Never Be a Sucker Again!