As of June 11, 2016 – No more gas can problems!


My gas cans are no longer an issue for me.

Were they an issue before? Yes.

I have a snowblower and a lawn mower. I have two small (2 gallon) gas cans that I need to keep filled in the summer and winter. I never know exactly when I’ll need gas, because the weather does what it pleases, and nothing ever grows… or snows… quite the way I expect it to.

For years, I’ve been oddly stumped by the supposedly simple task of opening the gas cans, filling them, and closing them again. I felt like such an idiot – everybody else at the gas pumps on the weekends was filling up their gas cans just fine. (And I could swear they were looking at me strangely, while I struggled to get the spouts off mine and fill them properly.) But there was something about the tab on the collar that holds the spout in place that always stumped me.

I couldn’t seem to figure out when to turn, when to press, and how hard to turn. I would fumble and struggle with getting the spouts off the cans, while people at the pumps were waiting for me to get finished so they could gas up. I would press too soon and twist too soon. Or I wouldn’t press hard enough, and I couldn’t get the collars off. Or I would twist without pressing at all, and then curse at the contraption when it didn’t cooperate with me. I would pinch my fingers and/or spill gas on myself in the process. It just didn’t make any sense to me, and I couldn’t figure out WHY they made gas cans so complicated?!

And then, when I was filling them, I’d mess that up, too. I’d spill gas when I was putting he pump spout in the can. I’d overfill the containers, with a little “blurp” of gas spilling over the sides. I’d get gas on my hands. I’d get it on my shoes. I’d try to wipe it off, but that’s not possible. Even with a handful of paper towels and some water I kept in a bottle behind my seat. And then when I put the cans in my car, the whole car would smell of gas, because it would rub off on the inside of the car where the cans sat. For days I’d drive around with the smell of gas, cracking the windows whenever I could to air it out. Unless it was raining. No, even sometimes when it was raining. The smell would be terrible. It would make me feel sick.

When I messed up filling the gas cans, I sometimes felt sick for days after.

And I would just dread filling up the cans, because it was so frustrating for me — such a simple task that anybody could do, but never actually came easy for me. I’d put it off and put it off, stretching the gas in the mower or snowblower to the very end, sometimes even running out of gas. I would not even mow when I should have, because it would use up fuel, and then I’d have to gas up again and wrangle with the gas cans all over again.

It was a major logistical hurdle for me. And I knew it wasn’t supposed to be that way. But how do you explain that such a simple thing is so confusing? How do you get help for that?

Simple. You don’t. You just avoid filling the cans until absolutely necessary. And then you pray that it doesn’t rain, so the grass doesn’t grow. Or that it doesn’t snow so much that you have to use the snowblower.

That was before.

Today was different.

I’d planned to fill them for weeks, since I need to mow and I need to have enough gas on hand, just in case. But only today did I work up the nerve to do it. So, I did.

And for some reason, when I took my two empty cans out of the back of my car and set them on the ground to fill them, I understood perfectly how to open the collars and get the spouts off. It was like I’d always known. I knew how to position the pump spout just right, and I knew how to fill them almost to the top without spilling. I could actually focus on what was in front of me, and for some strange reason I wasn’t agitated and anxious about it. Because I knew how to do it. And I knew that I knew how to do it. There was no question in my mind.

Remarkable. After all those years of being unaccountably stumped. Finally — finally — years on down the line, it made sense to me. So common-sense. Like I’d always known it was, but could never actually manage before.

Seriously, it was unlike anything I’d experienced with those gas cans, since the time I first got them. I could hardly believe it.  Here, I was bracing myself for the inevitable struggle to get those goddamned collars off, fill them with fuel, and then wrangle them closed again. And none of it was a problem. At all. I got them filled, closed them back up, put them in the back of my car, and drove home.

When I got home, I realized I hadn’t closed the gas cap on my car… but there was no harm done. And at least the gas cans were filled.

And that’s one less thing I have to worry about.


Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

4 thoughts on “As of June 11, 2016 – No more gas can problems!”

  1. Well done! It’s those simple things that we struggle with that frustrate us the most! I’m always amused in my neighbourhood when I see some old Wog Grandpa wheeling his lawnmower to the service station… have one ‘Up’ on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And those little things are so frustrating. At least my lawnmower is still running, which is a minor miracle, considering I do the minimum maintenance on it. I just hope I haven’t jinxed myself by saying that.


  3. I’ve considered an electric mower, but I’m concerned I’d mow over the cord. I haven’t seen any battery-powered mowers or snow-blowers, but they may be out there. Right now, what I have works, but I may branch out on the future. Thanks for the suggestion.


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