When I ran out of gas driving the ’57 Chevy to see my brother in Brookings, my fuel gauge said I still had 1/8 tank. The first thing I did was pull the fuel filter off to see if it was plugged. If the car hasn’t been driven in a day, I have to crank the starter quite a while before it fires up. I wonder if it’s getting fuel. Because of times like these, I wanted a fuel filter I could see through. I got one. It was on the wall with many others in the fuel filter section of the auto parts store. It was plastic, and maybe that’s why it came off. When I installed it, it was on solid with the same screw down hose clamps that held the previous filter.
I was backing out of a parking space at the hospital. The car began acting like it wasn’t getting fuel. I pumped the gas peddle a couple times and I heard a pop sound, like when the propane in a barbeque ignites. I thought, “Great, I’ve backed over something or a part fell off,” but suddenly a path of liquid flames was streaming away on the pavement in front of my car, and the Torch Red paint in the center of the hood was literally dancing. Instantly smoke and flames were pouring out of every escape from the doors forward.
I quickly turned the key off, got out, opened the trunk, grabbed the fire extinguisher (that had been waiting for this moment for 10 years), opened the hood and sprayed the fire out. It was an adrenalin powered moment. Without that extinguisher I would have been able to do nothing but stand and watch it burn. A couple guys rushed over to see if they could help, someone called the fire department but the flames were out long before they arrived.
The smoke cleared and the dust settled. Things were burnt and things were melted, but after removing what was left of the air filter and reconnecting the fuel line, I was able to start it up and drive it home.
It was a stark reminder that this car is a thing and not a loved one. It’s a thing I enjoy very much, but a thing just the same. And as I was reminded, things can unexpectedly be gone in an instant, but things can be repaired and things can be replaced.
Loved ones can be gone in an instant. People can not be replaced. I am so thankful for treasured moments and precious memories with friends and loved ones in my life. These are gifts from God, and are infinite blessings to me.