Adventures with Automotive Repairs
Over the weekend, I installed some new ball joints and a new head unit in my Jeep. I was enjoying driving my Jeep, so I decided to drive it to work.
When I got into town, I noticed that I needed fuel, so I stopped at the local Speedway and filled up. Since I use a gas card to pay for my fuel every month, I like to stop the pump at some increment of $0.25. It just makes the balance on the card "neat." Sometimes that means pumping a few more cents into the tank after it's automatically shut off.
Well, I missed the mark a few times and wound up putting about $1 more in after the "click." I noticed that I had a bit of overflow that dripped onto the pavement at the gas station.
Another thing about this Jeep: It has had a small fuel leak for the last couple months. This leak has never been severe, and it would only leak when the engine was running. It was on my list of "things to fix," but not at the top since it was such a minor leak.
I then drove the Jeep over to the parking lot at Hoyt Hall on the campus of Miami University (Ohio) where I work. I parked in a slanted parking space so that the Jeep was slanted toward the driver side. Because of the extra fuel in the tank, and the fuel leak, it started dripping. I figured it would drip for a little while and then stop. After I had been in the building for about 30 minutes, an email arrived telling me that my Jeep was leaking fuel and that the police had been called. I immediately picked up my keys to head to the parking lot. I planned to move the Jeep to a level parking space, and if the fuel leak did not stop, I was going to bring it home.
When I got out there, the police were already on-site.
"Gasoline is explosive," said the officer in an "official" tone. "I can't allow you to drive the vehicle with it leaking fuel."
I explained that as soon as the vehicle was leveled out, it would stop leaking on the pavement, and then I could safely drive it since the leak will stop. He refused.
About that time, the shift supervisor showed up. She also repeated the prohibition on moving the vehicle. I also told her that if they just let me drive it home, it will be fine.
"Sir," she said in her version of the official tone, "It's an issue of liability. What would happen if someone rear-ended you? What would happen if you had an accident? We (the police) could be held liable for letting you leave."
"Fine," I said, "I absolve you of any liability. What do I need to sign? I just want to leave."
"I can't do that. You're going to have to have it towed. I've called the fire department to clean up the fuel spill."
I don't have AAA. Some quick math tells me that it's going to cost well over $100 to have my Jeep towed from Oxford to Hamilton. If the Jeep truly was unable to move, then I would have just sucked it up and dealt with it. However, since I knew that simply moving the Jeep to level ground would alleviate the entire problem, I was rather miffed.
I started getting pretty upset about all this, and kept pleading with the officers to let me just drive it home. My frustration started to show in my vocal tone.
"Sir," said the male officer, "You're starting to take this to a place that you don't want to take it." His tone was very clear. He was telling me "back off, or I'm going to place you under arrest." I've heard this tone on many "COPS" episodes, so I know he meant it. I calmed down a bit, but kept pleading.
After a few more attempts to get them to let me leave, I must not have calmed down enough. The male officer asked for my ID. Oh boy. That made it worse.
I'm not the type of person who just hands over their identification just because the police ask for it. There's got to be a good reason. I believe that my anonymity is precious, and unless there is a really good reason that I should have to give up my anonymity, I don't. I believe it's my civic duty to question the police and their motives. I think it provides balance. Keeps them "honest," if you will.
"We need to record who we are dealing with," said the supervisor.
"You guys know me!" I exclaim. "I'm the guy who comes and fixes your computers. You and I have worked together several times!"
"I recognize you, but I don't know your name," replied the supervisor.
"We are required to get ID from everyone we have an interaction with," said the male officer.
I thought about refusing. I really did. Like a chess grand master, I looked ahead several moves, and more than one move in a in confrontation over the ID had the possibility of leading to my arrest. That could jeopardize my employment at MU, so I decided that I'd save that battle for another day when the situation wasn't so intimately connected with my employer. I handed him my ID and listened to him call in the driver's license number over the radio.
This whole situation seems really overblown. It's just a little gasoline on some asphalt,. But now, there's me, a police officer, a police supervisor, a fire truck and 3 firefighters involved. Oy vey.
Finally, after an hour of waiting, the tow truck arrived. And, as I promised, as soon as it was up on the flatbed and level, the leak stopped. Once I got the Jeep home, I spent the rest of the day draining the fuel tank and putting it into the Motorless Home's tank, I removed the fuel tank and repaired the leak. I had to buy a whole new fuel pump ($159!!!!) since it was the pump assembly itself that was leaking.
I'll also make sure that I fill my gas tank away from Oxford. This way, it won't be "super full" when I am forced to park on a slope.
What a fiasco. I understand that the police have policies that they have to follow, but these policies are in place not because they make sense, but to protect them from a lawsuit should something bizarre and uncommon happen.
It's things like this about our society that really scare me. All I want is to have my personal freedom. Live and Let Live. Whatever happened to allowing people to accept responsibility for themselves? There are so many nanny laws on the books that are there to protect us from ourselves. It makes me sick.
I just want to go to Texas, live off the land and be left alone. Patience.....patience...