Get your butt off the road

By Jeffrey Fazio
DriveTime Columnist

It might be kind of bizarre, but I distinctly recall the first time I ever filled up a tank of gas in my very own car. It was just over 16 years ago and I had just turned 16. I donít remember where it was (West Lawn maybe?). I donít recall how much it cost (much less than a $2 per gallon Iím sure!).

The part about this experience that was so earth-shattering that it has been tattooed into the nether regions of my mind, was that I had slightly overfilled that first tank. There simply wasnít room in the tank for those last few drops of petrol. Those drops spilled out, over the lip of the gas tankís orifice and spread out into a hazy stain across the carís paint like blood on the sidewalk of a fresh crime scene.

All drama aside, this was, by no means, a big deal. I surely wasnít the first person to do it. Itís probably safe to say it wasnít even the first time I ever over filled a tank and I am certain it wasnít the last. So what was so significant about it this time?

The pivotal moment happened minutes later, a few miles away. Dusk was slipping away into the darkness of night as I merged onto the by-pass. As the highway curved ahead, I could see the driverís side window of the car in front of me start to creep downward. I could barely make out the driver from the ghoulish-green glow of the dash lights, but I could clearly see a fire in his eye or so I thought. Fate would have it that the fire was actually in his mouth, and with one last drag it lit up with all the fury of hell as his hand reached up for it.

With a quick flick of his wrist, the fiery projectile was out the window like shot. The initial plunge of the burning embers toward the roadway was intercepted by the air stream of the moving vehicle which caused it to lift back upward as it came rushing toward me like a guided Patriot missile. It was heading right for my windshield, itís malicious glow escalating from the sudden rush of fresh air. Death seemed imminent, but at the last moment that invisible layer of air that hugs the body of a moving car protected me and pushed the cigarette beyond my reaches.

As it twirled out-of-control past my periphery, I started to relax. Then, with all of the anxiety of a well-filmed horror movie, my mind abruptly recalled the few drops of spilled gas on the side of the car. Terror returned en masse as I realized the dreadful possibility of the dying embers igniting the fuel that I had so carelessly spilled. I was sure this would be the end. I could see that my car truly was destined to go up in flames with me trapped inside.

Needless to say, the conclusion of all of this drama was much less interesting. The reddish light died out as it went tumbling toward the shoulder of the road to forever lie amongst millions of itís fallen brethren that had come before. Simply put, it just ended up being someone elseís butt along the side of the road.

To this day I am constantly amazed at how blatant some people are about flicking cigarettes out of their cars. They unflinchingly toss their rubbish in complete disregard of the intimidating "$300 fine for littering" signs that litter our highways. I suspect these are the very same people that try to hide that they pick their nose (perfectly legal!) while they drive; yet, they will brazenly litter after every smoke.

If they collected all of their cigarette butts for an entire month, I wonder if they would be just as likely to dump the pile of them on the side of the road or if they would actually feel guilty enough not to. Of course, if they were going to collect all of those cigarette carcasses for 30 days, where could they possibly keep them? Hmm. Maybe the ashtray?

Is it really that hard to keep your butt off the road?