This morning I stopped at my regular BP station to top-up The Grape and noticed the car at the pump next to mind was running.

It’s about10 degrees F and here in Wisconsin it’s not unusual for people to leave their cars running unattended when the weather is like this.

In this case however, the driver was present, and opening the fuel filler door.

I know that this may surprise some people, but gasoline is highly flammable. This is one of the reasons that every fuel station posts a sign that tells drivers to stop their engine before fueling their vehicles. In addition to the fire hazard other potential dangers exist when the car is running that can be avoided if you just shut off the engine.

As I watch her suspiciously I consider saying something, but I mentally run through each potential opening to predict the reaction and based on my expectations of her personality (the kind of person who puts their personal comfort above the safety of gas station attendants) I can’t find a combination that results in a definite win.

Looking back at the driver it turns out she’s not fueling the car while it’s running; she’s adding HEET.

For those of you outside of below-freezing temperatures HEET is a fuel additive which claims to make cars easier to start in the winter by displacing moisture which can accumulate in the fuel tank, resulting in poor running and potential fuel line freezing.

Heet is mostly methanol, and she is uncorking the bottle about six inches from the tailpipeā€¦this just keeps getting better.

At this point I just duck behind my side of the pump and anxiously await the end of my fill-up. I head inside to pay and while I’m fetching a Monster (green) the driver enters to pay. I have one last chance to correct the behavior but I pass.

I’m not sure how to handle these situations. On one hand, I feel responsible because I’m not taking any action to remedy the situation but on the other I can never find a way to address the issue without becoming confrontational, and based on past experience creating a conflict only serves to reinforce the negative behavior. This coupled with the fact that anyone who can read knows that what they are doing in this situation is wrong indicates to me that pointing out this fact is going to have little or no effect.

I break rules as well, but I go to great lengths to understand the reason behind the rule first, and avoid doing so when the effects of this choice are felt by others.