Friday, January 20, 2012

The Postal Tardis

 For filling up our mail trucks, we in the Postal Service have gas cards issued to us when we need gas. They are specific to us, one to each route and we use them no matter what vehicle we have. If, for instance, I have a different vehicle for the day I would still use the gas card assigned to my route to fill the borrowed vehicle.
We are accountable for these cards, and we are not supposed to ever take them home with us. I believe the worry is that some unscrupulous person just might give their own personal car a fill-up on the USPS tab. Since my personal Jeep has a 20 gallon tank, to do this would be a great savings to me.

But no, I have never even attempted to fill my own car with the Postal gas card. I think it would be quite easy to spot, since I usually get 16-18 gallons at a time and mail trucks only have 12-gallon tank. Having a sudden big fill-up might stand out a bit.

That brings us to this morning.

I am using a truck different from the one assigned to my route at the moment, since I was under Inspection and they gave me a truck with a built-in GPS unit so they can track my movements all day.  This morning when I ran through my vehicle check, I saw that the fuel gauge was reading low. Very low. I went back in the building and fetched my gas card, and the filling station became my 1st stop of the day. I pulled up to the pump and ran my cars through the machine, putting in all the information it asked me for. Then I started filling it up.

How much will it take, I wondered. I always wonder that, as the gauges in these vehicles are notoriously inaccurate. How close to 12 gallons will I get this time?

I know it seems like a stupid thing to wonder about, but I do. I've gotten 11 and a quarter, 11 and a half, even a touch more than that before. I always want to see just how close to the full 12 gallons I need.

So I watched the numbers roll by. 10 gallons. 11 gallons. 11 and a quarter, eleven and a half, I was actually getting a little excited. Would this be a new record?

Twelve gallons. Twelve and a quarter. Twelve and a half.

What the hell?

I watched in shock as my 12 gallon tank took 13 gallons and kept on going.

What's it doing, pouring out on the ground?

I actually took a step back, getting as far from the vehicle as I could while still squeezing that pump handle, so I could bend down to look beneath it. I was  more than half expecting to see an expanding puddle of fuel under there, but the ground remained dry. I looked back at the pump just in time to see the numbers creep past 14. The pump handle jumped in my hand with an audible thud, and the auto-shutoff kicked in. I stared at the pump readout.

My 12 gallon tank now held 14.2 gallons of fuel.

"It's a Postal Tardis!"

For those of you unfamiliar with the science fiction Dr. Who , the Tardis is the fictional home/vehicle of the aforementioned Dr. Who. While its outer shape is that of a 1960's style London Police Box, the interior (through a judicious bending of Space/Time) has the size and general structure of a mansion, with multiple rooms and plenty of space. In other words, it's larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Just like my gas tank.

Now, the problem I am anticipating is this: What am I to say to my boss when, suspicious that I was somehow gassing up my own car, he asks me just how I managed to get more than 14 gallons of gasoline into a 12 gallon tank? Do you think I should try my "I am a Time Lord and this is my Tardis" angle?

Yeah... me neither.

Talk to you later!

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