God, I'm Dumb

My hands are shaking.

I went to Starbucks to do some programming tonight. On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some milk and other refinements. Normal evening.

As I came up to the corner of the major cross streets near my house, I saw smoke coming off of a black truck in the middle of Mountain Vista, at the corner, next to the AM/PM gas station. As I got closer, I could see that it was in fact still on fire, and that the driver — a middle-aged Hispanic dude — was trying to beat the flames out with a blanket or something, and get something — I couldn’t tell what through the smoke, maybe a person — out of the truck.

I turned the corner and asked him if he needed help. “Yes, please, help,” he said. I whipped a U-turn and pulled into the gas station. I ran over to the truck, and I immediately realized the engine itself was burning. Drops of burning fuel were pouring out of the engine enclosure and landing on the asphalt, where they stayed on fire. There wasn’t anyone else in the truck — the guy was just grabbing his jacket and his cassettes and shit out of the cab.

So I ran over and asked the gas station clerks — who of course were outside — if they had a fire extinguisher. Some other guy grabbed the one hanging next to the pumps and gave it to me.

This was about the moment when I noticed that the truck was about ten feet away from the station’s propane tank…and next to the tank was an empty car with a ‘FOR SALE’ sign in the window. I suddenly had a vision of the burning fuel finally catching down the fuel line, the truck blowing…and then in quick succession the propane tank and the gas tank in the car…which would have ignited the station’s fuel pumps. The entire corner would have vaporized.

But instead of running away like a sensible person, I took the fire extinguisher and started hosing down the engine, hoping I could put out the fire before the fuel line caught. I almost grabbed the hood to pop it open, but the logical bits of my brain showed me another hideous vision: my hands roasting on the metal of the hood, or the hood blowing open and a plume of fuel-assisted fire turning my face into a marshmallow.

And the driver just stood there next to me, staring at his burning truck. He took a turn spraying the extinguisher at his engine, but that was about it.

Tu habla English?” I asked. He shook his head. “Shit,” I said. “Mi no habla Español.” I gestured at the truck. “If the fuel line catches,” I said, “boom!” and I pantomimed an explosion. I pointed at the propane tank. “You should get away,” I said. “If this blows, that’ll blow too. Big boom.”

But he shook his head, either because he didn’t understand me or he didn’t want to leave. And the engine kept burning. I tried to get the AM/PM clerk to shut off his pumps, but he wouldn’t do it.

At this point, a cop pulled up and got out of his car, but wouldn’t come out from behind his door. I told him what was happening. “You shouldn’t go near it,” he said, but I kept trying to use the fire extinguisher. “You’re crazy,” I heard him mutter at me.

Finally the fire extinguisher ran out of foam, but the engine was still burning and drops of fuel were still coming out. A huge bright white plume of smoke — presumably from the antifreeze, since oil burns black — was coming out of the seams of the engine compartment like a thunder cloud. It stank of burning plastic and chemicals.

Finally, a minute or two later, the fire department rolled up in a big yellow fire truck and started hosing it off with their gear. I waited to make sure it was okay, and told the cop and the driver good evening and rolled home.

And it wasn’t until I really pulled up to my house, three blocks away, that I realized how close I might have actually come to dying. I know it’s harder to blow a car’s gas tank up than you see in movies…but it was that burning fuel, like napalm, that really worried me. And it was so close to that propane tank. If the truck had blown, it would’ve knocked the tank off its moorings, which could have easily ruptured it, sending a jet of propane out…and that would have been Boom City for yours truly.

If I had any self-preservation skills, I would’ve jumped in the van and rolled when I realized how big the boom might actually get. But, shit, the dude asked me to help him. I thought maybe somebody was in there. And I didn’t want the whole goddamn intersection to go supernova.

I mean, who knows what would’ve happened if I hadn’t stopped to help? There were people standing around — customers at the AM/PM tanks, attendants — but none of them came anywhere near the truck or helped the driver, except the dude who grabbed the fire extinguisher. And the driver was totally useless — the entire time, he never seemed to understand the danger he was in.

Even if I didn’t put the fire out, maybe I stopped it from just burning and burning until the tank went up. So maybe I saved that poor dumb dude’s life.

But I’m very glad I didn’t end up roasted. I’m looking forward to 2008, you know?

Listen

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0 Responses to God, I'm Dumb

  1. Michael R. Bernstein says:

    Well, just in case it needs to be said, I too am very glad you didn’t get roasted.

    ‘Cause, that would have sucked, y’know?

  2. Frank Beaton says:

    You and Getchell need to form some kind of vigilante/rescue squad, and begin regularly patrolling East Las Vegas for fun and profit.

    I like it. You’ll need a name, though. The B-Team? Nah. Epsilon Force! No, that’s no good. Maybe we should do a contest or something. First one to come up with a usable name for you guys gets a pack of smokes and a swift kick in the balls for unruly behavior.

    (I am jealous of your adventures, Josh. Glad you didn’t get blowed up. And for God’s sake, take some Spanish lessons! You can BitTorrent the Rosetta Stone course, you know. Lives may depend on it. 😉

  3. Joe T. says:

    I second what Frank said, kind of. All too often for his own good, Josh succumbs to “Superhero Syndrome”.

    “I mean, who knows what would’ve happened if I hadn’t stopped to help?” — Yes, and if you took a different route home?? You would have been none the wiser about this whole thing.

    If it were me, I’d have just taken a big B-line AROUND the incident, and avoided trouble for myself.

    Maybe Josh has spent too much time hanging around Saab Lofton back at the old City Life shack.

  4. Saab Lofton says:

    “instead of running away like a sensible person, I took the fire extinguisher and started hosing down the engine”

    No, you DID the “sensible” thing by lending a hand, and I’m proud of you. I bet next month’s rent and power bill the “middle-aged Hispanic dude” ain’t saying “haha.”

  5. Matt Hafner says:

    FACT– This Tool Saab lives with his mother, won’t work a day job and dresses up like a super hero to sell his ridiculous books!

  6. Saab Lofton says:

    There’s been a rash of comments posted by a STALKER who’s clearly obsessed with me — and I can only wonder if this “Matt Hafner” is the real name of “Globetrekker.” For what he’s so pissed about, look no further than …

    http://www.trews.org/node/937

    … EVERY SINGLE COPY OF MY NOVEL WAS SOLD IN RECORD TIME, PERIOD. The outfit he’s referring to was worn to promote/publicize the novel — and since the character I was dressed as disabled every nuclear missile on Earth, it was an anti-nuke statement as well. Again, these comments are from a STALKER and NOT to be taken the least bit seriously.

  7. Joshua Ellis says:

    Well, one comment. But the point is taken.

    Guy who’s calling yourself Matt Hafner: you wanna bash Saab, do it on your own time, in some other place. Not here.

    I have your IP address. Saab may not know how to track you from that, but I do.

    Bother me again on my site and I’ll come to where you live and fuck up the way your brain works with a piece of rebar.

    Transmission ends.

  8. Rufus says:

    THE JOKES GETTING OLD!

    God this has to be the funniest sh*t Saab has said in like a day or so! Saab was requesting over the internet to have someone drive him to Portland and this was his excuse for never having learned how to drive.

    “I’ve never learned to drive a car (cartooning took that much of my time over the years)”

    What cartooning would that be? Three zerox sheets stapled together called Dufus the Rat! Dude when the story was first told it was funny but now the jokes grown stale. Please list all the comics you have drawn to date and let us know how we the people might purchase them? As far as driving a car goes I’m sure it was just a matter of choice so you would have another excuse not to be responsible for yourself!

    MR.HOLLYWOOD

    Saab Lofton

    “I have turned down a number of Hollywood producers who want to make a movie with my black superheroes as a comedy.”

    YEAH RIGHT, I’M F*****G LAUGHING MY AS OFF RIGHT NOW! You’re a f****g tool!

  9. Saab Lofton says:

    Dr. Ellis, would you please fuck up the way the stalker’s brain works with a piece of rebar? Thank you.

  10. Rufus the Black Homeless Rat says:

    Hey Saab, why dont you go suck Ellis’s cock! The only reason you know him because he’s a Dr. of Proctology and you had to visit him to find out why you balls were so small!

  11. Saab Lofton says:

    Dr. Ellis, I think I know who this stalker really is. E-mail me privately so we can talk. I’ve had enough of his obsession with me and this psychotic use of the names of my characters as pseudonyms.

  12. Saab Lofton says:

    Dr. Ellis, I think I wanna fuck you up the ass cause your so cute. CAll me big fella. You know my number. Then we can T-Bag each other!

  13. Impersonating the object of your obsession* again, eh, stalker? This is clearly desperation — not able to beat me in any legitimate debate (How can it possibly be legit when we’re dealing with someone anonymous who has been known to use the names of my fictional characters* as pseudonyms?). Again, Dr. Ellis, e-mail me privately — I’ll be able to tell one of your messages from from an imposter …

  14. Impersonating the object of your obsession* again, eh, stalker? This is clearly desperation — not able to beat me in any legitimate debate (How can it possibly be legit when we’re dealing with someone anonymous who has been known to use the names of my fictional characters as pseudonyms*?), the stalker resorts to this sort of shit. Again, Dr. Ellis, e-mail me privately — I’ll be able to tell one of your messages from from an imposter …

  15. The REAL Saab Lofton says:

    For the record I’m gay. I know I lied about it in my previous post. I should have fessed up to it. It’s just this stalker wont let sleeping dogs lie. I mean It’s like fighting in the Gulf Of Tonkin or looking for weapons of mass distruction. This stalker is serioulsy deranged. If you want to know the real information go to my we site.

    http://www.webstarts.com/wikobiblia

  16. Saab Lofton (the REAL one) says:

    Hey everyone! just wanted to let all yall know that I’m still on the dole. That’s right subsidized housing is the shit! I’m so happy I can stick it to the man by not working a day job and relying on stupid white people to pay for my food. Any way Ive been selling alot of my crappy comics on the streets. People feel sorry for me and by it…Suckersssss. Ha ha ha. It’s just three black and white zerox sheets stapled together. I’m ripping all those fuckers off but I don’t care. later!!!!

  17. Saab Lofton says:

    Dr. Ellis, I apologize again for this psychopath who keeps impersonating me …

    http://www.saablofton.org/announcement.html

    … he’s still under the delusion that, by spreading lies, he can make me look so bad that I’ll be forced out of pursuing my labor of love (radical storytelling) and into a burger flippin’ day job (knowing full well I’d rather die). THIS is what set him off six months ago …

    http://www.coanews.org/article/2008/seattle-suicide-watch

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