I had been working in full service Sohio stations for a few years. (Yes, I realize that most people here are not old enough to remember. There was a time, kids, when employees of gas stations would pump the gas into your car for you, wash your windshield, and check the oil.) One day we were training a new kid. It was maybe his third day on the job. He started pouring a quart of oil into the engine of a large car, and spilled some (OK – a lot) onto the engine block.

The oil, of course, caught fire. I was inside the station with the manager. I started to head out to the island, but the manager held me back. He wanted the new person to learn how to handle this. A great deal of smoke was coming off of the engine. The driver of the car could not see this with the hood up.

The kid came into the station and the manager suggested that he ask the driver and his wife to step out of the car. The manager picked up the obligatory fire extinguisher and attempted to pull the pin while walking out to the island. He stopped and started wrestling with the extinguisher. The pin was rusted in place!

By this time the new kid had gotten the couple out of the car, and the husband was yelling and threatening to sue everyone. (It should be noted that a small fire on an engine block does not cause any damage to a car.)

Anyway, I picked up the second fire extinguisher in the garage and took it out. The valiant manager finally put out the fire. By that time, though, most of the oil had already burned off anyway.

We all had a good laugh once the customer left, except the new kid. The manager explained to him the steps to follow the next time this happens, and more importantly how to tip a quart of oil quickly so that it doesn’t spill. But I think the day was just too stressful and the new kid left the following week and got a job at a fast food restaurant.

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