It’s been a surprisingly warm day early February when I realized I needed gas. My car was gasping for fuel, and I stopped at the gas station, doing what I always do. Stuffing my cell phone into my pocket, getting out of the car and getting ready to pump gas.
I got a bit of water and that really ugly ragged thing that’s parked at gas stations for people to clean their windshields and ran around my car to make sure I would have a clear vision as soon as I was back in my car. And I tried to be careful since that day we had important guests at the office, and I was dressed in a business suit and high heels.
That moment I realized two senior women leaning on a car two gas pumps further away, whispering and provocatively looking at me. There was no doubt; they were talking about me.
I knew I was looking quite decent, my car wasn’t as dirty as it normally is and I was doing good, so what was there to whisper about?
That moment my phone rang. I was waiting for a call and pulled my cell out of my pocket to answer the call.
While I started talking, smiling, talking some more, the gas pump ‘told me’ my tank was full. I removed the nozzle from my car, closed everything up and finished when the two ladies ran over to me, screaming and crying, their hair standing up.
My call was only short, and I smiled, said goodbye and hung up. Then I turned to the ladies. “Don’t you think it would be appropriate to keep your volume down when you see other people being on the phone? They were breathless in shock and pointed to that famous sign on the pillar next to the gas pump:
“How DARE you?” one of the ladies panted, only to burst out into visible indignation when I had a laughing fit. After recovering halfway, I finally managed to ask the ladies: “You aren’t dumb enough to still believe that fairy tale, are you?”
They could barely believe what they heard, and I finally told them: “I’m sorry, ladies. I don’t have time for the long version. But believe me: That’s crap. It’s a myth, and nobody knows where it came from. No smoking while pumping gas makes sense. But not using a cell phone? It’s a myth. I wish you a wonderful day.”
Then I took off.
And really, it IS a myth.
I’ve done my research. Years ago already the “Mythbusters” have proven that cell phones cannot produce sparks strong enough to cause a fire, not even if one was holding a cell phone right into the gas vapor.
AMTA, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, launched a study by the Oklahoma EMC Center about this subject. The study was sponsored by the London Institue of Petroleum which published the results at a seminar:
There was another study, carried out between 1994 and 2005 at gas stations around the world which confirmed the myth:
Many more studies around the world show the same result:
But make no mistake! Using cell phones on gas stations is NOT completely harmless!
Further studies and expertise have clearly stated, it’s most likely the static electricity that’s the danger!
It’s not the cellphone, but static sparks created when drivers rub themselves on the car that cause most of these fires. A lot of times, the drivers talk on their phones when the spark happens, so it just looks as if the cellphone is the cause of the fire, when it’s actually irrelevant.
When you’re moving in and out of your car, you’re generating static electricity. If you feel a spark, that’s usually between 10 and 20,000 volts of static electricity—and that’s plenty strong enough to make gas fume. (Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/10/03/cellphones_at_gas_stations_mythbusters_debunk_one_of_the_biggest_myths_in.html)
And now you might ask: What in the world does that have to do with writing? And I’ll reply: The call I got was from my new copyright lawyer. 😀