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Rewind, please

While we should certainly welcome new experiences in our lives, some, I think, we can do without. This past month offered me the opportunity to grow, to embrace new events and new skills, and to become a more proficient person. Frankly, I could have skipped the month entirely.

However, I did learn an important lesson. We in New Jersey should NOT underappreciate the hell (and embarrassment) we’ve been saved in having attendants materialize at our gas stations, fill our tanks, and allow us to leave with dignity intact.

Not so for me on Mother’s Day weekend in Maryland. How hard could it be to unscrew my gas cap (I thought) as I twisted, pushed, and pulled the strangely immobile circular disk. Apparently, it was harder than I thought.

Feeling, at that point, just slightly embarrassed (the true humiliation would come later), I approached the attendant in the kiosk, asking for some help.

"My gas cap is stuck," I said, hoping he’d come to my assistance without giving me that "another one from New Jersey" look.

He was charming and friendly and completely non-condescending as he effortlessly removed the cap and talked me through the next stage of the procedure — which, at that moment — was starting to seem a bit like brain surgery.

"Put your credit card in there," he said. "No, that’s upside down. Try it again." Smiling, and assuring him that I would be "just fine," I placed the nozzle in the tank and stood there, holding the trigger.

"Um," he said, you may want to flip the bar so the nozzle will stay in by itself."

"Sure," I said, "I was just going to do that." Strangely, he trusted me and returned to his office.

The next few moments were relatively easy. The gas flowed through the hose into my car, and I figured I was home free. Then the nozzle clicked.

Pulling the hose out of the gas tank, I inadvertently kept my finger on the trigger, spraying everything in sight with gasoline and praying (praying) that Mr. Nice Guy wasn’t watching me and secretly taping me for some TV program called "Stupidest gas station video."

Once the spraying stopped, I found I could not get the nozzle back into its holder. I pushed it down, lifted it up, resolved not to cry, and — finally — got it secured.

With mock bravado, I pushed the button indicating that I wanted a receipt, got in my car, and began to drive off, completely forgetting to close my gas tank. Braking abruptly, I re-popped the tank, managed, thankfully, to close the hatch, slammed the outer door on the tank, and rode away into the night (the day actually).

It makes a good story, and I’ve been telling it to everyone I know, so they can laugh with me and not — as I know the guy in Maryland is still doing, a month later — at me.

I’d rewind to April, but then I’d have to get ready for Pesach again. Sometimes, you can’t win.

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