I hate gasoline.  Not because it’s expensive or dangerous, but it always spills on me, no matter what I do.  It spills on me when I pump gas in my car, or when I fill gas cans for mowers.  It spills when I use a chainsaw, it spills when I put it in weed-whacker.  It humilated me once, when I put it into my friend’s tractor, only to discover it took diesel.
Today I was filling a gas can at the local Exxon.  After I pumped two gallons, I noticed a small but powerful leak in the side of the can.  It was spurting out.  I had to put the can in the car!  But if I did, the back of my Durango would have been filled with gasoline before I got home.

So I tried to apply electricians’ tape, which I bought as the clerk laughed, sympathetically.  It failed.  I realized I’d need to buy a new can, which I did, grudgingly, and then washed the gasoline off of my hands where it (of course) spilled on me.

But for just a moment, a brief, ER moment, made worse by the warm sun, cool wind and clear blue Carolina skies, I thought, ‘you know, all I need to do is melt the plastic a little to stop the leak.’  But from somewhere my guardian angel said ‘Stupid!  It’s gasoline!’  That was all I needed.  Like the time I was a resident emergency physician, flying on an MB 117 helicopter, and almost walked into the tail rotor on a tiring, late night run.  Something stopped me.

Now, I believe in angels.  I’ve seen too much not to believe.  But even for those who don’t, my summer advice is this:  take a minute and think.  Before you do almost anything other than breathe, think.

Here are a few useful questions to ask as you think:

Am I drunk?  Will it bite?  Will it explode?  Can I swim?  Will something fall down?  Do I know how to use this device?  Is it flammable?  Will I choke to death?  Does it sting?  Am I allergic to it?  Are people watching with video cameras?  If I attempt this, will I make the news?  Will I end up in the ‘Darwin Awards’ book?  And last but not least, is it really necessary?

Maybe we should give ER patients a pamphlet with these questions on it.  And while we’re at it, we should ask ourselves the same.

In my case today, it made all the difference.  ‘Will it explode?’  You betcha, you stupid redneck!  And here I am writing, instead of asking for more Fentanyl at the Joseph Sill  Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.

Be careful out there; summer is out to get you!


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