Try to hold some faith in the goodness of humanity. – Neil Peart
Whenever I use the drive through car wash, my fuel door flies open at the last step of the wash – the high velocity dryer, or whatever it’s called.
Once I decided not to close it upon completion of the wash. Since then, I never close it. Why?
First, A Brief Look at the Fuel Door
After a couple of trials, I learned that the fuel door will close automatically at a speed between 45 and 55 MPH. Why it fluctuates, I don’t know. Having tested out of physics in high school during a series of miraculous events that shaped my academic foundation, I know very little about physics except basic stuff regarding gravity. And what I’ve learned during common redneck experimentation. That being the case, there are forces at work that I can’t explain.
I do know however that there is no immediate danger while driving with your fuel door open. There is, after all, a gas cap.
In fact, despite the nanny state signage, there is arguably little-to-no danger involved in fueling your tank with the engine on (another redneck experiment), while smoking, on your mobile device. The biggest issue is free hands at that point, but we’re getting too far afield.
This Became An Experiment
The first time I did it, surrounding drivers came out of the woodwork – and their cars – to notify me of this fact. What I didn’t understand is the passion with which they would inform me. After all, there was little danger involved. Why did they care so much?
What really drove them crazy was when I gave them a thumbs up while mouthing the words I KNOW – this would result in a kind of dissatisfaction on their part. It was as if I wasn’t heeding their warning and had been cast off at that point as hopeless – simply being “on my own” from there.
A Past Experiment in Understanding Humanity
These results were similar to experimentation in which I was involved – interestingly enough – during the construction of my academic foundation. In high school, my friend developed a practice:
- Refill a fountain drink before leaving a fast food restaurant.
- Place on top of car.
- Enter the vehicle knowing said drink is on roof of car.
- Drive off.
This resulted in behavior by surrounding drivers that is almost identical to that regarding the open fuel door. At low speeds while the drink remained stationary, drivers would excitedly notify us that a fountain drink had been erroneously left on the roof of the car; the implication being that calamity was imminent.
A knowing thumbs up or a wave would result in a look that clearly said NO, YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Then, that same sense of not heeding their warning and simply being on our own from there. Suit yourself.
This is Encouraging.
Think about it: We’ve all driven around – or been passengers – while greater threats to life and limb lurked. Some invisible. Some obvious. An under-inflated tire, for example (or, just a “low tire” as it is called in my part of the world). Rarely does anyone warn us about those threats.
Why? I believe that people:
a) Don’t venture outside of their respective areas of expertise – for example, a beverage on top of a car is clearly out of place while dark gray exhaust requires a more complex diagnosis;
b) Don’t want to be perceived as preachy in less obvious areas that require greater expertise;
c) Perceive a line past which circumstances involve too many variables and they stay out;
d) Perceive a line past which the situation’s complexity deems intervention as being “too nosy.”
The takeaway is encouraging though. Basically, more people care about other people than we think. People want to be helpful to a point that is socially acceptable. And, even more importantly, we should probably be more trusting of other people than we are.
Still, it’s fun to watch people react to an open fuel door.