“Bro, I’m really sorry about all this,” Chase says. “At this rate, we could’ve just bought the canister and the gas all at the station.”
“We could’ve,” I agreed. “But that would’ve been more expensive. And besides, now we have a story to tell.”
“But I will tell you this. This better be the last stop. If they tell us some nonsense like, “Oh, we don’t take gas with water in it. That’s for the Connecticut dump.”, then we’re done.”
So we find the fire training center, pull into the parking lot and walk inside. And as I appraoch the entrance I imagine the gas station guy calling ahead to alert the firemen about two undocumented immigrants trying to dump stolen oil. How would we explain this? I don’t have my passport on me. Neither does Chase. License and registration? Maybe.
We walk in and we pass a few open rooms with no one in them. But behold, down the hall there’s apparently a party and a table full of sandwiches and snacks is being set outside. It turns out we might get something for our troubles after all. But as I get closer, I realize that everyone in the room is sitting in a giant circle and it looks less like an office party and more like an AA meeting and I dismiss the thought of pretending I’m supposed to be in there.
The woman setting up the table outside the room has her back to me so I politely walk up to her and say, “Excuse me.”
She doesn’t hear me.
I repeat this about six more times to no avail. I’m not mumbling. I’m within sneezing distance of the back of this woman’s head.
Nothing. I reach out to tap her shoulder and a voice screams behind me.
“When’s lunch ready?!” a black woman from the door of the room shouts and the woman in front of me suddenly turns around and nearly bumps into me.
“Hi,” I say, finally having her attention. “We have some gasoline we’re trying to dump. Do you know where we can dump it?”
“Ohhhh, you’ll have to ask in the office,” she replies.
“Thanks,” I say and two steps later, in the office, “Hello, we have some gasoline we’re trying to dump. Do you know where we can dump it?”
And her face drops. A look of urgency flashes across her eyes and she’s gone from woman behind a desk to woman on a mission. And in one breath she blurts out, “Go to the building next door, but get in your car and drive around because they close at 1.”
Chase checks the time.
We sprint out the building, gasoline tank in hand, jump into the car, and shoot out of the parking lot, tires squealing as we swing towards the adjacent building. We don’t even know what this building looks like. We could be on the wrong side of the parking lot for all we know. The building has two sides. What are we doing?!
But we turn the corner and see a sign on a gate that says something about waste—just as an Asian man is closing the gate.
“Excuse me, sir,” Chase calls to him. “We have some gasoline—” You know the deal.
The Asian man holds the gate, stares at us, and sighs. “How much gas is it?”
“About a quarter of a gallon,” I tell him.
He looks back over his shoulder and does that annoyed slouch that says, “My shift is done, I wanna go home…”
What does he want from us? This is that moment where I wish I was a baby and could give him a puppy dog face. Or that I was Bruce Wayne and could promise him an early Christmas present named Ben Franklin. But Bruce probably wouldn’t be in this predicament, now would he?
“Fine,” he says. “Swing around back.”
It’s hard to describe what we felt in that moment. It was a mixture of joy, relief, and a little of “What-is-wrong-with-the-world-that-it-takes-an-hour-and-a-half-to-dump-some-oil”.
But finally, this man dumps the oil, we drive back, fill it with gas, drive to Chase’s car, and he asks me, “Did you fill it with Diesel?”