I parked, not in my usual spot because some git has taken to beating me to it by a couple of minutes in the last few days, and began making my way from the car park to the station, about 100 yards away. As I walked between rows of cars I was suddenly struck by a very strong smell of gasoline. Open pan of gasoline strong1. I walked a couple more steps then stopped and turned, sniffing the air in the same manner movie vampires do when there are young women in corsets nearby.
There. Right behind me. It was a champagne-coloured minivan (a Voyager/Caravan/Freestar style thing) and it was sitting in a slowly expanding lake of liquid. The liquid was freezing in some places but not others (gotta watch where you buy your gas this time of year) and the smell was much stronger the nearer I got to it. I looked under the van and could see fluid dripping from the rear underside.
"This not look good" said Mr Brain and I began to dither about what to do.
Experience has shown me that calling 911 would result in an extended conversation mostly on the subject of who I was and where I lived. Not that I mind supplying these details when the occasion calls for it but my cellphone battery was very low at that time. I decided to walk to the platform at one end, and walk up it asking if anyone owned the vehicle. I took a picture of the licence plate in case anyone owned up to a vehicle of that type2 and as I walked away noted that the little BMW sports car that was parked next to it had already been vandalised. Should the minivan detonate it would probably visit the most violent Nagasaki3 upon the poor thing's superstructure. I am not the only one who owns a cursed car it would seem. By asking first then phoning someone (as yet undetermined) I would give the owner the chance of avoiding towing charges, fines and whatever else the town and county would deem appropriate to visit upon the now vehicle-less owner. Of course, there was always the chance a passing smoker would save everyone the trouble and simply arrange for the minivan and the surrounding vehicles to be scattered in kit-form over the car-park, allowing everyone to take their vehicles home in a small trash bag.
I put plan "spread the word about the leaking gas tank" into effect to general sardonicism on the part of my fellow commuters. The reactions I got as I approached each small cluster of well-wrapped people and said "Does anyone own a champagne-coloured minivan?" indicated they thought one of three things
- Leave me alone. I'm not buying whatever you're selling
- Someone left their lights on
- This idiot just crashed into the minivan
Having warned everyone and given them their chance to own up and react, I called the LIRR and reported the situation. I have to admit that the reaction I got was very encouraging. The man on the other end of the call was couteous, polite, intelligent and grasped the situation quickly. I double checked to make sure I had actually called the LIRR and not gotten a wrong number, but he was an actual LIRR employee working at that moment in an official capacity for the LIRR. He confirmed the details and I left him to deal with it. I was too stunned by the professionalism and efficiency the call demonstrated to get his name. Whoever he is he is either a keeper or doomed to be downsized. Maybe this is the dawn of a new age of getting it right for the LIRR.
Only time will tell.
- Anyone who used to repair their own cars in the goodoledaze of leaded gasoline probably kept a pan of it for washing their hands in after a hard day grinding grease oil and undersealer into their hands while replacing some part of the undercarriage. The smell is never forgotten↑
- Mr Brain is pig-useless at remembering things to order and is not my friend at the best of times - hardcopy is always called for↑
abs n Damage of maximum imaginable proportions
vb Infliction of same upon some person, place or thing
source Bert Fegg's Nasty Book For Boys & Girls, usage modified by extensive use in the Lanchester Polytechnic Board Game Society esp during games of Star Fleet Battles↑