Sign on Gas Pump

| | Comments (3)

I saw this posted on the side of a gas pump in Pennsylvania:

If a fire starts, do not remove nozzle then back away immediately.

I'm sure many people will get exactly what this is supposed to be saying. Nevertheless, it doesn't say what it's supposed to say. If just spoken, it's ambiguous between the following two meanings:

1. If a fire starts, what you shouldn't do is remove the nozzle, and what you should do is back away immediately.
2. If a fire starts, here's what you shouldn't do: remove the nozzle and then back away.

The first is the intended meaning. I think the second is the more natural interpretation when spoken. But this is actually written, and there's one thing that settles which meaning it has: whether there's a comma or some other separation marker between 'nozzle' and 'then'. There isn't. That means that, as written, it clearly does mean 2 and not 1.

3 Comments

Actually I believe the second meaning might be what it is saying. It could be saying you shouldn't pull it out and back away because if you do that causes the fire to spread. If its a metal sign though then I am sure they check their stuff for comma use, however if it was just a paper post then I wouldn't put much faith in the grammar skills of the pump man.

Just a thought: If you're filling your gas tank and a fire starts, you already dead.

Actually know, because the gas tank won't just blow up. I have seen videos. The gasoline itself is not very flammable, and the fumes while very impressive to look at, are not very powerful. They have to be compressed in a tight space to create a real explosion and the concentration of fumes to air has to be just right. Gasoline is a low grade explosive which means that it just burns really fast, unlike plastic explosives which have an intense chemical change. Just check mythbusters.

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