A Potential Explosion Of Complaint

, , , , | Right | June 16, 2017

(I work in a 24-hour service station and as such I see plenty of people lighting cigarettes at the pumps, talking on the phone while pumping, etc, but this story by far takes the cake as the most incredible lack of common sense I have ever seen in my life. It is about 8:30 in the morning and I am changing the bins in the forecourt when a truck driver approaches me.)

Truck Driver: “They’re not allowed to do that, are they?” *points to one of the pumps*

(I look over to see a man connecting jumper cables to his battery, AT THE PUMP.)

Me: “No, they’re not.” *walks over to them* “Hi, guys. I’m sorry, but you can’t try to jump start it here. You need to move it away from the pump.”

Customer: “We can’t start it to move it.”

Me: “I understand that, mate, but you need to put it in neutral and try to roll it away. If you try to jump start it here, it could make a spark and the whole place could go up.”

(At this point the customer pretty much ignores me and continues connecting the leads. Luckily by this stage the man who is kind enough to offer to use his car to jump start it is within earshot.)

Me: “I’m sorry guys, but you REALLY can’t jump start it here!”

Kind Customer: “Oh, we can’t?”

Me: “Not right next to the pump. You need to try and move it away.”

(The customers manage to roll the car away from the pump and jump start it. I just couldn’t believe the complete lack of disregard for everyone’s safety!)

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  • LegionOfDo

    It appears there was plenty of disregard to go around. You meant “lack of regard.”

  • Kay Lee

    It’s either lack of regard or disregard. Lack of disregard would mean they do care for everyone’s safety.
    Also, I am surprised that the people jumping that car survived into adulthood.

    • Leiko Burningbear

      That’s what I was going to point out. It derailed me from the story, ’cause once I saw that line all I could think was, “OP, that phrase does not mean what you think it means.”

  • Craig Lashbrook

    Someone going to point out the mobile phone myth, I know it! I don’t count. Because bacon.

    • BR

      Don’t they have that rule because of the distraction? That’s also why they have magnetic releases on the pump tube- people will drive away with the pump still attached to their car!

      • Craig Lashbrook

        yes, that is why those notices started. And then, people stopped thinking about it. As my old teacher once said, “if you painted a building bright green and glued a car to the side, after six months, it would just be, that? yeah. it symbolises pollution or something. Or maybe aliens did it.”

      • Some of the stations I’ve been to have “no cell phone” signs that claim the phones will cause a spark, rather than cause problems due to distraction. Far fewer have warning signs about re-entering vehicles (which is a real problem due to build up of static).

        Doing a quick search on gas stations and cell phones, it would seem that cell phones may pose a problem if they have a faulty battery, but it’s unlikely and the same problem can happen with the car’s battery. More often gas stations fires that are initially attributed to cell phones are later found to have other causes, usually static discharge. And two of the big stories initially used to circulate the warning (a man in Indonesia and a man in Australia) have been pretty much impossible to find more than vague (and thus likely fabricated) details.

        It seems the jury’s still out on whether or not cell phones are actually a danger at gas pumps. I leave mine in the car anyway, but I’m less likely to think someone on their phone at the pump is going to cause a fire than I do of someone smoking or constantly getting in and out of their car. Or, heaven forbid, trying to jumpstart their car right there. I can definitely see the distraction element being a problem, though.

        • Vulpis

          Glaxy 7. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

          • Very true. One of the rare definitely-proven-to-be-a-problem instances. All the more reason to just leave your phone in the car.

        • Leah

          Mythbusters did the mobile phone-at-a-fuel-station thing. In the end they had to intentionally rig the phone to spark to create any kind of reaction. In short, mobile phones don’t pose any more of a fire hazard at a fuel station than dry weather does.

          • Allan K Preston

            The real reason cellphones were originally banned at fuel stations, isn’t a fire risk, but because the EMR (electromagnetic radiation) they emit, caused certain kinds of fuel pump to run slowly, resulting in the customer getting more petrol than they were actuially paying for.

            That problem was fixed a long time ago, but the rule remains, mostly out of ignorance.

          • Leah

            I have seen signs which explicitly warn of a fire hazard.

      • Cally

        I hate mobile phones on the forecourt because the idiots using them aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing with giant lumps of metal and combustible materials. I even cite that when they whine at me about it. It’s at least more reasonable that an infinitesimal chance of a battery shorting out.

        • Leah

          see, I get that argument if they’re driving the car. But if they’re just standing there refuelling what exactly is there to be distracted from?

          • Cally

            Really? Handling inflammable materials don’t need your full attention?

            Walking across a forecourt with your face in a phone isn’t dangerous?

            Arighty then.

          • Leah

            Talking to someone on the phone is not having ‘your face in a phone’. And no, i don’t think walking across a forecourt while talking to someone on the phone is dangerous. I can watch where I’m walking while talking and I’m a bit worried about anyone who can’t. Don’t know how it’s any different to talking to a person who’s there with you while walking across the forecourt.

          • Cally

            Good for you.

    • Celoptra

      it did count at one point but doesn’t anymore

  • Dhoonib

    Its not that they didn’t care about everyone’s safety its that they are too stupid to know what they are doing is dumb.

    • 白大福

      We had a guest in my hotel putting metal into out microwave machine…that has a large sign of “No metal” in both English and Spanish…

      • EJ Nauls-Poland

        Well there’s your problem, you expect them to read.

        • 白大福

          Unfortunately all of our mind reading coworkers were sick that day from trying to read out how people like that still alive.

    • Ghostest

      I was wondering if it would have if the attendant had outlined WHY it was dangerous but I’ve read enough of these stories to know it only helps about half the time.

      • BR

        “If you try to jump start it here, it could make a spark and the whole place could go up.”

        • Ghostest

          That would work if they just haven’t thought things through but would it matter if they just want what’s easiest for them?

          • BR

            Sorry for the confusion; I pulled a direct quote from the story.

          • Ghostest

            Sorry, I didn’t see that line. My mistake.

  • Bonnie L

    I remember sitting in the car watching a worker check the level of gas in the underground tanks – manhole open, checking with a stick, while smoking a cigarette. Another customer yelled at her – she yelled back & said nothing would happen. Nothing did – but man, was I scared!

    • Kalu-chan

      I’m not 100% sure, but I think a zigarette wouldn’t be enough to ignite fuel. I wouldn’t try it out though.

      • Shauna Mac Siacais Guell

        Yeah, it’s one of those things where “ok, there’s MAYBE a .001% chance of this actually happening, but WHY RISK IT??”

      • Bonnie L

        It’s the fumes that can be ignited.

        • sackes

          Only problem is that you need 15 parts of air for each part of gas. That much air isn’t available in a gas tank even if it’s half empty, nor in the proximity of the manhole. Further more, the energy in a cigarette is not enough to ignite gas fumes, according to this link:

          www . intuitor . com / moviephysics

          • Bonnie L

            So why weren’t you there 30 years ago to calm my nerves? 🙂

          • sackes

            Sorry, I can’t be everywhere even if I wanted to… 😋😜😛

          • Difdi

            I read your link and they didn’t test with the sort of gas fumes you’d find in an in-ground gasoline tank, a car’s gas tank or a portable gasoline can.

            You can put cigarettes out in a jar of gasoline all day. But the static electricity from doing a Picard Maneuver on a sweater is enough to ignite fumes.

          • sackes

            Nope, the air-gas ratio must be as I stated to be able to be ignited at all. This is called the stoichiometric ratio:
            en . wikipedia . org / wiki / Stoichiometry

            If that ratio is different, too much fuel or too much air the eventually ignited fumes won’t do any harm.

      • Allan K Preston

        It would ignite the fuel, but probably wouldn’t explode. Petrol explsions require a very specific fuel/air mix.

        • Lev Borovoi

          You don’t want to ignite it, either.

    • Lev Borovoi

      And then there are gas station employees who try to sell you feel additives why you are refueling and to demonstrate something, they ask you to turn on ignition, while you are refueling!
      It doesn’t cause the car to explode most of the time, but why risk?

    • Pogla

      It’s not exactly the most intelligent thing, but petroleum needs a spark to light.
      Drop a cigarette into a barrel of petrol and the cigarette will go out.

  • Stephen

    If you want to know what the result of ignoring the OP would look like, just ask Deadpool

  • Frédéric Purenne

    *raises hand* Can someone tell me why it’s bad to talk on the phone at the pump?

    • Ghostest

      It was proven a myth back with the old phones which had physical buttons. Part of it is probably liability based. Insurance companies probably require the warning as part of their safety package. I’ve also heard that given how much technology changes that there isn’t enough proof that all phones in all situations are safe.

      • Moonshadow Kati

        This suddenly makes me worried about exploding (well, rapidly combusting) batteries at the gas pump. Vaping at the pump, actually worse than smoking?

        • It’s possible. I do know there are a lot of places that don’t allow smoking that include vaping under that umbrella.

      • Darth Pseudonym

        A phone can’t start a fire, for a variety of reasons.

        Consumer electronics that run on normal lithium batteries don’t have enough juice to cause an open spark that you’d need to start a fire. The spark you get from touching your car door after getting out on a dry day has a much higher chance of starting a fire.

        Which is still virtually nil, since you’d need to be standing in a cloud of vaporized gasoline for that to happen — you need 1.4% (more or less, depending on temperature) by volume to ignite gasoline in normal atmospheric air. You’d be stumbling away choking before you got anywhere near that concentration; that’s like what you get directly over the surface of a bucket of gasoline.

        The danger of open flames or cigarettes is primarily in getting one close to the gas cap (where there is likely to be a heavy fume outflow or spilled gasoline droplets) or dropping a cig to stomp it out and throwing it in a puddle of overflow.

        • I once worked at a chemical factory. We had regular safety drills for what to do in such exciting potential emergencies as a dangerous vapor cloud escaping a pressurized reactor chamber and moving down hallways. One of the facility’s rules was that there were no cell phones in certain buildings where that could happen, and the reason they told us employees was that if you dropped your phone, the battery falling out could cause a spark at the little metal contacts where it connects to the phone, and that could ignite something.

        • As I recall, a puddle of gasoline itself wouldn’t be a problem, because gasoline itself doesn’t ignite explosively. Again, it would depend on how much vapor is around the puddle because it would be the vapor that ignites in a fireball.

          Static discharge is indeed a problem, doing a quick search. Several incidences of sudden fire at gas stations have been traced to static discharge (or that pointed at as the most likely cause), and the risk increases the more you get in and out of your car while fueling, which is why it’s recommended that you not only discharge yourself away from the gas tank opening when you get out of your car in the first place, but you avoid climbing back in until you’re done fueling. Even more important if you’re wearing a nice thick sweater or something else that helps build up static faster.

          • Darth Pseudonym

            A puddle usually has a vapor layer over it, which is what could actually ignite. The point is dropping a cig in an area saturated with flammable liquids is a bad idea, even if nothing happens 99 times out of 100.

            Normally static fires happen when, as you say, it’s dry and somebody gets in their car during fueling. They get out when fueling is nearly done and, still charged, reach for the handle. Now there’s a static spark in the fume outflow from the filling gas tank, and that’s the combo that can make a fire.

      • NessaTameamea

        I once heard the explanation that a phone could cause a spark when falling out of one’s hand and shattering on the ground. Does anyone know more about this?

        • Leah

          Sounds like total bollocks to me. Not to mention it’s fairly well known now that phones really don’t pose any fire hazard at fuel stations but they keep the warning signs there ‘just in case’.

    • I Troll Libtards

      Because cars are driving in and out. Some idiot on the phone doesn’t look up, gets hit, and sues the gas station. In libtard America, they win that lawsuit.

      • Jackie Fauxe

        I’m so glad I don’t live in the America you describe as it sounds absolutely miserable. The America I live in has a lot problems, but it also has a lot of great things to it too.

    • Leah

      It’s not. Just like using a phone in a plane doesn’t interfere with their communications. But it’s a myth which persists and safety guidelines are still based upon it.

  • Cally

    I can believe it, seen it happen at least three times in the past seven years and they all got annoyed and called us jobsworths for daring to stop them.

    • Powers

      “jobsworths”? Is that an insult?

      • Cally

        In the usual sense, yes, because someone is using their power to push around people who would usually be senior to them. In this case I’ll happily take that title if it saves me from having the last thing to go through my mind be my arse.

        • divgradcurl

          Powers might have been asking what the term means in the first place — I’d never heard it either until I googled it right now.

          And now I know a new song!

          (hums) “Jobsworth, Jobsworth, It’s more than me job’s worth…”

        • Powers

          What usual sense? I’ve never heard the word before in my life.

          • Dan

            Its a British term. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

          • Powers

            Or you could have just told me.

          • Darth Pseudonym

            It’s a British term for somebody who adheres strictly to the rules of their job in a malicious way, generally for refusing to make a reasonable exception or interpretation because they don’t want to get up and go do it, or just for the power trip. The term comes from the traditional phase, “oh, can’t do that, it’s more than my job’s worth to do that.”

  • Rhys Jones

    Worked at a Petrol Garage for a few years, this is not unusual at all. I swear they are being lied to about petrol being flammable. I had a protracted argument with a customer who did the same thing I eventually said “look to you want the deaths of 30+ people on your hands? No? then roll your car away from the fuel tanks and the pumps”

  • BR

    I would’ve grabbed those cables away. Let the boss try to fire me.

    • Moonshadow Kati

      Risky. If the customer tried to stop you, or if you were careless in your handling, the positive and negative connectors may end up touching while still connected to the kind customer’s battery. This would definitely produce a spark. Better to stay calm and collected.

  • Shane Almeida

    This is what happens when a society lets (and practically encourages) people to use a technology they do not understand.

    “How does the combustible engine you are operating work?” “Magic.”

  • Matty

    Should I jump my car next to these gasoline pumps? That’s a burning question.

  • Vercalos

    Ugh. I remember seeing this at a gas station and no one stopping them. I was terrified for a couple seconds, then pissed off over the suicidal stupidity.

  • Josh Dull

    They really want to win a Darwin Award.

    • ShadeTail

      Going for a Darwin Award for themselves is just fine, as far as I’m concerned. The problem here is, they were trying to drag a whole gas station’s worth of other people along with them.

  • Lord Circe

    Well of course. After all, bad things are stuff that happens to other people. Something like that would never happen to them.

  • Steve Mitchell

    OP was far too polite here, seeing as they could have killed everyone.

    • Alan Liber

      I tend to agree but to be fair, ‘mate’ in this context isn’t really polite. It’s like the equivalent of the American ‘pal’ in “you lookin’ at me pal?” but more passive-aggressive/condescending than plain aggressive.

  • Westrim

    “talking on the phone while pumping”
    The idea that cell phones are dangerous at gas pumps is confirmed by Snopes to be wrong; even if it was ever true, it isn’t for modern devices.

    • Cally

      For me it’s the fact they aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing while handling petrol and walking around where there are large lumps of metal moving about.

  • mischiani

    Over the years I’ve settled on a method of dealing with customers who are behaving in a way that can cause them serious injury. Step 1: Issue a logical warning. If ignored, then Step 2: Check the surrounding area for innocent bystanders. If there are none, then Step 3: Let the poor judgement continue. Wait at a safe distance for karma to kick in.

  • Ben Willems

    Unless they cause a spark near the nozzle, nothing will happen.
    Watch mythbusters, especially on the phone part

    • Difdi

      The Mythbusters aren’t all that expert on a lot of things.

      Search you tube for woman sweater gas station fire. There are lots of examples of how you can set yourself on fire at a gas pump.

    • Darth Pseudonym

      The real issue with jumping at a gas station is that jumping itself can cause a fire, because the battery might give off hydrogen gas while charging. That’s why you have to connect the positive wire to the car’s frame instead of the battery post.

      If the car catches, you really want that to happen a nice long way from the pumps.

  • Don Burke

    FWIW, there are some cars that don’t want to come out of park if the engine is not running.

    There are overrides for that function, but few people know how to use them.

  • A lot of people don’t realize that there is a problem and/or think you’re exaggerating. It’s not malicious, just ignorance and people don’t trust minimum wage workers when they say it’s a problem.

  • Mushroom

    customer: Is it going yet?
    gasoline vapors: *boom*
    me: (standing back up) Gone.

  • After they got the car going, they should have attached the cables to Customer’s ears next.

  • termt
  • Annie Dodd


  • I once saw a guy welding right next to his oxygen tank. It was on fire. We had to point it out.

  • NoobLord

    Wait, dumb question here: Why shouldn’t you talk on a phone at a gas station?

    • Darth Pseudonym

      See the responses to Frédéric Purenne a few posts upstream.

  • Cody Ranney

    To be fair, it’s near impossible for a spark to ignite something at a gas station, what worries me is if they use an old battery, the potential sparks could cause the battery to explode thus potentially blowing up the pump. Potentially. Not worth the risk.

  • Pogla

    I assure you that if this happened in Australia, it would not have been a “gas station”

    • Alan Liber

      Yeah but the tag is pre-existing and it’s an American site. The story says it’s a ‘service station’ which is probably a bit formal, but if the OP had said ‘servo’ we’d have had heaps of yanks commenting asking ‘What’s a servo?’

      • Pogla

        Use the correct terminology please: Seppo

  • Tricia Stewart

    For some reason I chose to imagine that with the Wrong Turn guy’s voice and a tourist and it did not end well.