OFF THE CUFF

Something a little strange happened recently while my wife, Wendy, and I were on our way to Springfield.

We pulled off of U.S. 60 at the first stoplight in Seymour to gas up the truck at Casey’s General Store and pick up a couple of the scrumptious donuts the place offers. We got back onto the four-lane, and as we approached the second stop light at Seymour in the left lane, we noticed a white-haired, older man driving a pickup just ahead of us in the right lane who was waving his arm out the window as if to get our attention.

I pulled up alongside him and Wendy rolled down her window.

“Your gas cap is hanging loose,” he said.

“Oh, thanks,” we said.

After the light turned green, I let traffic go by and pulled over on the shoulder. I got out and quickly observed that the gas cap was not hanging loose and the gas cap door was shut.

I then realized I hadn’t even needed to pull over to confirm what I saw, because the gas door is on the driver’s side of the Ford F-150 and I could have looked into the side mirror and seen it was shut. But when you hear something like that, you don’t necessarily think slowly and logically, and I guess I erred on the side of caution.

But that wasn’t the strange part. It was what that man said.

After I stood by the truck for a few moments pondering whether there was something else I should be concerned about, I determined there wasn’t, shook my head and got back on the road.

For the next several minutes, Wendy and I discussed what in the Sam Hill had just happened.

She suggested that maybe the guy saw another vehicle with its gas cap hanging loose and somehow got confused and thought it was ours. Yeah, maybe.

She also brought up the fact there’s one of those fairly big trailer plug receptacles below the truck’s back bumper and a small plug hanging from a wire just below that.

OK, maybe that was what the man saw. He (like me) was plenty old enough to recall when some vehicles were equipped with gas caps at the rear that were accessible by flipping down the license plate.

But I think it would be hard to confuse that with a trailer plug hookup.

Then came an idea from the depths of my abnormal brain: He was playing some sort of game that involves getting people to pull over for no reason and scored 10 points for getting the silly tall man to not only pull over, but also get out on the side of a four-lane.

Yep, and his granddaughter was probably in the other seat giggling.

“Way to go pops!”

You know, these days, that notion may not be all that far-fetched.

After a while, we decided there was no conclusive explanation for the incident and that the few we came up with were equally possible and equally weird. We simply figured the experience should be chalked up as one of those mysteries of the road.

Kind of like, why is it that when you pull in behind someone driving slowly on a two-lane highway and go to pass them, they suddenly speed up in order to make it hard for you to get by?

And like, why do some people (mostly men) drive around on clear nights in their trucks or SUVs with their fog lights on?

And why do people get mad at you for slowing down to make a 90-degree turn from a highway onto a side road or driveway?

Anyway, the incident in Seymour didn’t do much to derail our day. And the donuts were still good.

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