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I have a little can for gasoline. I use it to fuel my lawnmower. Recently the spout broke. I fixed it with duct tape, of course. And, of course, the duct tape only held up for a few months. The can itself is over 30 years old, and I have the idea that, since plastic deteriorates over time, it probably will need replacing within the next decade or two. I also thought that a cheap plastic gas can with a nice pouring spout would not cost very much more than a purchase of a replacement spout. So while I was out on Saturday morning I stopped by Autozone to pick up a new gas can. And, modern American life being what it is, I now have a story to post at Ricochet.
First, while my old can holds 2.5 gallons, the cans on the shelf all came only in two or five gallon size, so if I keep a little can it will mean more trips to refill the can. I don’t want to fool with the larger can, so I picked up one of the two-gallon cans and carried it to the counter. While waiting for the cashier to fire up his cash register (he had been in the back and so had to log in), I took a look at the new can. I unscrewed the cap and pulled out the pour spout, and started to install it for immediate use. The pour spout looked funny, and the cashier saw me giving it a close inspection. He said “You haven’t seen one of those before.”
“Nope.” Said I. “It looks like a new and improved safety pour.”
“Yeah, let me show you how it works. You have to press this release thing and then this catch slides back.” He tried it but couldn’t get it to work at first. He fiddled with the release and finally could get the catch to slide. He showed me the end of the spout, and said this opens the spout. It had a grooved stem that held the little cap out in front of the end of the spout.
“Oh, great; it’s a dribble-pour,” I whined.
“Right, but it should all splash into the tank if the end of the spout is below the top of the filler tube.” He handed the spout back to me.
So I pressed the release and tried to slide the catch. I couldn’t get it to move because the spring was really stiff. So I screwed it onto the can to get a better purchase on it. Then I aimed the can like I was about to pour, and pressed the release with the thumb of my left hand. I pulled the catch back with my right forefinger. The spring was really stiff.
He said, “what you do is push the catch by pushing it against the edge of the filler tube.”
“Oh, boy. I am going to pour gas all over my mower.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
I figured out quick that I would be better off to keep my old can.
“Do you sell replacement spouts?”
“Yes, but they all look like this. Or, the spout on the five-gallon cans looks a little different.” We went and looked at the five-gallon cans. They had two styles. One was worse than the two-gallon model. The other was really nice, easy to use, and I was considering whether it was worth the effort of fooling with the bigger can.
He said, “It’s good to get back in this aisle where the security camera can’t see me show you this.” He held up a spout. “See, what you do is cut off the end of the spout right here. Then, the whole apparatus slides off the end of the spout.”
“Cool. But then I need to remove the spout in order to cap the can. Do you sell replacement caps?”
“Gee, I don’t think so.” He looked around but came up empty.
“Or,” said he, “just take it off and use a funnel.”
“Great. That will release a whole lot more vapor and still be more likely to drench the mower with gas.”
“Right. Try not to set it on fire.”
Then he said “Only problem with this one (pointing to the nicer five-gallon can) is, this one costs fifty bucks.”
“Fifty bucks?!” Sure enough, this was confirmed by a glance at the shelf tag.
“Say, is this a national thing or a local thing?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Remember when the gas stations all had those vapor-recovery nozzles? Those were only required within the metropolitan area on account of air quality, and if you were out in the countryside they weren’t required.”
“I dunno.” I was disappointed by that response, because I had been thinking he was being really helpful up ‘til then.
“Or maybe farmers don’t have to live with this foolishness? If I drove out to Somerville could I buy a can at the Farmer’s Co-op that had a regular old spout?”
“Maybe; I don’t know.”
“Alright, some internet research is in order.”
“Great; I just talked you out of a sale.”
“But you win style points for being real helpful,” I offered. He grinned.
After several minutes of banter that involved the other store employee and two other customers (this is the South), I headed home to look this up.
The internet is awesome.
Sure enough, this is unescapable by legal means. It came from California, of course, like many other vile elements of American society. Team Obama at the EPA made it national.
Even Big-Statist Progressives hate it. I found a hilarious complaint at DailyKos.
I also found a worthwhile blog post at Laissez Faire with this helpful remark:
It’s striking to me that the websites and institutions that complain about government involvement in our lives never mentioned this, at least not so far as I can tell. The only sites that seem to have discussed this are the boating forums and the lawn forums. These are the people who use these cans more than most. The level of anger and vitriol is amazing to read, and every bit of it is justified.
There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills. It’s as if some bureaucrat were sitting around thinking of ways to make life worse for everyone, and hit upon this new, cockamamie rule.
Yeah, so now I am laughing at some of the gas can hacks that are out there on the internet. Please send in your own suggestions while I plan my next move. First, I think I will just replace the duct tape on the old broken spout.
I think also I will write to my congressman.Published in