I had set out early that morning, heading for an important appointment with just enough time to buy gasoline.
But when I reached out to twist off the gas cap, it wasn't there. I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone had noticed how silly I felt, and I looked again to make sure I wasn't mistaken. I couldn't explain the cap's sudden absence.
My thoughts flashed back to my California homeland, to the early '80s. Gasoline was relatively expensive then, too, and gas siphoning was not uncommon. People would help themselves to someone's tank of gas with the aid of a short length of garden hose.
I wondered if someone had helped himself to my tank and mistakenly shoved my cap into his pocket. Yet I had kept close track of my fuel usage. I would know if gas was missing.
The attendant inside the convenience store thoroughly searched the counter for a stray cap, but found none. Nor were there any new caps for sale in the garage. Meanwhile, the attendant cautioned me not to put more than $5 or $10 of fuel into the tank, or gas would slosh out.
Great, I thought, compromising with $7 and praying I would reach my destination.
I jumped back into my car, my loyal companion for seven years. …