Sunday, May 04, 2008

God on the Interstate

I feel the presence of God most strongly when I'm in my car.

From the moment the door clicks closed until it is opened at the end of my journey, God's hand is evident to me with perfect clarity.

The cars, trees, and dogs blocking me when I need to take to pull out. The slow car I'm following for a mile that turns left, only to be suddenly replaced by a slow truck that pulls in from the right. The synchronization of the traffic lights, or lack thereof. The sudden need to pull over for fuel or a call.

Every event is God controlling my speed. He clears the way, or He slows me down.

I don't know why. Maybe it's to avoid an accident that would have occurred if I had reached a certain intersection a few minutes earlier. Maybe it's because I'm needed somewhere a few minutes later. All I know is that I'm not in control. I can push the speed limit as much as I want, efficiently start and stop my vehicle, drive faster or slower. It doesn't seem to matter much. I'm not in control of when I get there. God is.

Funny I can't feel that throughout the rest of my day, when I'm walking, or working, or cooking. I feel my decisions count for so much more at these times.

Why I Spent 70 NIS Too Much on Gas Today

1. The gas station I usually go into was full of cars. I headed to the next one, which was relatively empty.

2. The gas station I headed into immediately filled up with cars as soon as I headed into it.

3. At this station, you press the intercom and tell the worker inside which station to turn on, how much gas you want, ("fill-up") and which type ("95" = standard Israeli unleaded). I did so. I've never seen a station like this anywhere else in Israel (I've seen it in the U.S.). At most Israeli self-service stations, you just swipe your card and pump your gas.

4. As I was talking on the intercom, the car that pulled up to the pump behind me honked, causing me to jump out of my skin. It was a friend from Beit Shemesh that I don't see that often. She struck up a conversation.

5. As she struck up a conversation, my cellphone rang. I had left it in the car, so I had to turn and lean in and pick it up and acknowledge the caller.

6. As I did so, I tripped over one of the (four) gas hoses, causing it to fall off the pump.

7. As I put it back on, I picked up the pump sitting in the "95" dock and put it in my car, while on the phone, while fending off a conversation with my friend from Beit Shemesh.

8. The pump that I put into my car, even though it had been parked in the "95" dock was the "99 special" gas pump; the two pumps had been switched around and parked in the wrong docks. The 99 special costs 8.80 NIS a liter, while the standard 95 costs 6.35 a liter.

9. The 99 special pump shouldn't have worked, because only the 95 pump should have been turned on. The worker inside had just switched on all of my pumps (instead of only the 95) because the sudden influx of cars into the station caused her to cut corners. In any case, I was supposed to be paying attention to what I pumped, right?

I blame the person who filled up before me, the gas station worker, the person on the phone, my friend behind me, all the people who pulled into the station, all the people who pulled into my usual station which I skipped, my wife for a conversation we had this morning, and basically everyone except for myself.

No scratch that; I blame God.



meowsqueak said...

Using your cell phone on a petrol station forecourt? Yikes, that's not safe dude...

Likewise, touching your car while filling up is even worse - static electricity can cause explosions.

That said, a shot of higher octane fuel now and again won't hurt your car and will probably even do it some good.

Yehuda said...

Touching the car? Never heard of that one.

Cellphones I vaguely recall, but I don't know the facts about it. I'll look it up. Wouldn't stop everyone around me from doing it, of course.


meowsqueak said...

It can't be too unsafe otherwise there would be far more accidents.

The danger is that a static charge can build up on the car (which is why you get a shock when you get out sometimes). If you're filling the car up and the air/fuel fumes are present in the right concentration and you touch the car causing a spark, well...

I imagine in reality the fume/air mixture has to be pretty high so this is probably only going to be a real danger if fuel is spilt nearby.

Opinions on the cellphone one are mixed - I think the current sentiment is that it's "unwise" to use your phone on the forecourt but that might have been more relevant to the older analogue phones. I really don't know the details.

I would suggest that sparks due to touching the car are more common than cellphone induced ones.

I only mentioned this because of service station security camera footage I saw (youtube maybe, but I think it was years before youtube) that had a woman get in and out via the back door of her car while filling up to answer her cellphone - the entire vehicle (and her) went up in flames. I don't know if it was the cellphone or static buildup from sliding against the back seat that caused the explosion, but I remember it vividly.

Since then I've treated the petrol pump as a hazardous environment and always given refuelling my complete attention.

meowsqueak said...

Sigh - I posted a much longer reply but I think Firefox ate it during 'publish' - anyway the basic gist of touching the car is causing a spark, which seems to me more likely to cause trouble than a cellphone personally.

Anonymous said...

I think everybody would freak out if they knew how often idiotic Israelis SMOKED during filling up their car.

I totally do not get this. People smoking at a gas station. J@#$JR@#$RJ#IORJ

Yehuda said...

That's nothing. I called over a gas technician for an emergency in my house because I smelled a gas leak.

And he was smoking as he wandered around trying to find the leak! That God it was just a biyuv leak, and not a gas leak after all.