Saturday, December 6, 2008

Confessions of a Hazmat Smuggler

So the other day I drove to work, which I don't normally do. My fuel gauge was sitting on empty when I left my house. But I was in a hurry and I figured I could deal with it that afternoon.

When I got ready to go home, of course my car wouldn't start.

I sat there for a minute, thinking of what to do. Where am I? I thought. I am on the third floor of the underground parking deck of the Cosmodemonic Institute for Science Policy's Bhaskara Center, which is in Penn Quarter. I have no idea where the nearest gas station is. It's bound to be far away. And I've got a flute student coming in an hour and a half besides; I can't be walking the streets looking for gasoline. So what am I going to do?

Hm, I continued thinking. What Metro stations do I know of that are near gas stations? Cleveland Park springs to mind. There's an Exxon station right there. It's about 15 minutes away. Ok, this is doable.

Of course, it only occurred to me after I was comfortably seated in the train on my way back to Cosmodemonic that I maybe shouldn't have been so cavalier about bringing two gallons of gasoline in a bright red container on board. Don't they have regulations about these things? I remembered walking right past a Metro police officer too. I remembered smiling at her as I got off the escalator. Damn. I'm good.

Well, I'd made it, anyway. I got to my stop, carefully exited the station at the turnstile furthest from the stationmaster's booth, and walked into the Cosmodemonic Building's lobby, carrying the gas can on the opposite side of my body from the security guard. I debated whether or not to whistle. Would it make me seem less like an enraged cubicle rat coming in to set fire to my files? Or more like one?

I'd almost made it to the inner door when the guard called me. "Sir? Excuse me? Sir!"

I turned. I was SO busted.

"Do you have your ID?" the guard said.

"Oh, right," I said, fishing my laminated badge out of my shirt pocket.

The guard took a look, and said, "Ok, thanks." I went on through to the elevators, rode down to my car, and gassed up and went home.

So how safe does this make you feel? Because the only reason the nation isn't up in arms about another horrific terrorist attack right now is that I'm not a murderous psychopath: I had means and opportunity, but no motive. I'm laughing about this incident, but it does make me go hm.


An Briosca Mor said...

Looks like you lucked out by not having any french fry munchers or Starbucks sippers near you while you were in the Metro system. Otherwise the SWAT teams would have been all over you in an instant!

Rob said...

Heh. Yeah, no kidding.

I just checked Metro's website, and yes, I was in fact breaking the law by transporting flammable materials on board a Metro train. And I really did walk right by a Metro cop.

T said...

With a big red gas can, no less. Geez. But I don't think I've *ever* not been stopped for eating (not that I tried it more than a couple of times).

An Briosca Mor said...

Since you were breaking the law by carrying a full can of gas onto the Metro, perhaps you should have hailed a cab instead. I wonder if any of DC's cab drivers would have stopped for a white dude carrying a can full of gas?

And by commenting on this post, I apparently infected myself with the car-won't-start virus. I walked into my garage this a.m. to head for work, turned the key, and...nothing. Called AAA and they came out and jump-started me, proving that my problem was a dead battery. Fortunately, the Beetle is designed such that I could not avail of their replace-your-battery-on-the-spot benefit. (Trumpeted repeatedly while I was sitting on hold with them for 15 minutes.) I say fortunately because that would have cost me for the price of the battery replacement. But when I used their free jump start to drive to the VW dealer, I discovered that my 3-1/2 year-old battery was still covered under warranty. Who woulda thought? But I'm not complaining...

mike said...

I wonder how many days in a row you could do that.