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People who think they're in authoritative positions.

  1. Aug 16, 2008 #1
    After completely draining a motorcycle fuel tank of gasoline, I packaged the tank and took it to the local post office for shipment to the buyer.

    The women at the counter started to weigh it, and then smelled the box, and asked what in the hell was going on.

    That all the gasoline was drained, and that the smell was clearly due to inevitable residual vapors, was not accepted. She proudly said she couldn't take it, with a smile on her otherwise miserable face.

    So I went to the post office a town over, and there were no problems.

    Basically, I really hate people that feel they need to act powerful and throw a wrench into your day over petty issues.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2008 #2
    My favorite tactic is to press them until they get illogical, in this case you could ask what condition a gas tank needs to be in in order to be shipped. If she says "it shouldn't smell like gas", then ask her how to remove the gas smell. If she says "that's not my problem" then you say "then how do you know it's possible to remove the smell?"
  4. Aug 16, 2008 #3


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    That makes no sense.
  5. Aug 16, 2008 #4


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    Know what I hate? People who seek to engage in dangerous/illegal activities, and then have the gall to think that they are the victim when they encounter an obstacle.
  6. Aug 16, 2008 #5


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    It's surely up to the clerk in question as to whether she wants to accept a parcel that stinks of gasoline, given that it will be her job on the line should it be something dangerous.
  7. Aug 16, 2008 #6


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    I see your point but, an alternate question seems in order:

    How vapour-free must a gas tank be in order to be guaranteeable as non-toxic, non-dangerous and non-explosive beyond any forseeable risk?

    Seems to me that, attitude aside, she did have a legitimate concern, and she's erring on the side of caution when it comes to postal and public safety.
  8. Aug 16, 2008 #7
    Some people just like the 'power' over other people---the first ones that come to my mind first that I've dealt with seem to have something in their past, as to make up for some inadequacies (plural)
  9. Aug 16, 2008 #8


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    This doesn't sound like a case of "power" but a case of being right about not allowing a package that reeks of gasoline through the postal system.

    I have to say that some people that feel like someone enforcing sensible rules is trying to "overpower" them, may have some issues.
  10. Aug 16, 2008 #9


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    The highest concentration of such people I think surely must be at about any state Department of Motor Vehicles. While I used not to hold the USPS in much regard some years ago, I think they have responded quite well to competition from UPS and the other carriers and I find anyway they are usually more helpful than not. In my experience I think on-line motor vehicle registration has done as much to ease the pressure of life in the US as Tylenol.
  11. Aug 16, 2008 #10
    I was commenting on his last line:

  12. Aug 16, 2008 #11


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    Yes, he seems to have a problem with the fact that someone is doing their job. He should have read the rules about what can be sent through the mail.
  13. Aug 16, 2008 #12


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    And about gasoline safety....
  14. Aug 16, 2008 #13
    well, that last line didn't have anything to do with gasoline or the incident
  15. Aug 16, 2008 #14
    Those "residual vapors" are dangerous. It should have been thoroughly washed out.
  16. Aug 16, 2008 #15
    What is the threshold concentration for smelling gasoline?

    "most people can smell gasoline at levels as low as 0.25 ppm." http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/chemFS/fs/Gasoline.htm" [Broken]

    Do a basic Conversion: 0.25ppm is .0000025%

    Now what does it take for ignition?

    http://www.chemistry.ohio-state.edu/ehs/handbook/flammabl/firetech.htm" [Broken]


    (minor) One measurement is by ppm, the other is by volume. But these are equivalent under the assumption of the ideal gas law.

    (major) The concentration of gasoline in the air that the clerk smelled could have been anything greater then 0.0000025%, since this is only a threshold.

    Allowing for the major caveat, we can assume that the air surrounding the gas tank had a 100 times the threshold concentration for smelling, and even then we see that the clerk was being overly safe by a factor of 1,000.

    If there was no liquid in the tank (it was dry to the touch) then it could not possible cause an explosion. We could do something like assume a 0.1 mm thick layer that could not be felt to the touch was surrounding the tank, overestimate the inner surface area of the tank as 1m^2 and we would have a single milliliter of gasoline!

    I agree with the original poster, this is not an issue of safety, but rather of power abuse and bad science education.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  17. Aug 16, 2008 #16
    Holocene----were you shipping a gas tank full of gas?----shame on you --you SHOULD be thrown in jail!!!
  18. Aug 16, 2008 #17
    Hmmmm, lets see. You and I are both pilots. Would you knowingly put a package into your airplane that reeks of gasoline because the joker who handed you the package said "oh, its empty trust me"......:rolleyes:

    I'd toss the package right back into his lap and say "I'm not shipping that, get outta here"
  19. Aug 16, 2008 #18
    Actually, when I fly, I typically carry at least 180lbs of highly flammable 100-octane fuel with me.
  20. Aug 16, 2008 #19
    Which is contained inside a fuel tank designed for fuel, with air bleed vents. You also inspect the inside contents of the tank before each flight and check for particle contaminants.

    What do you expect that lady to do with a sealed box that reeks of gasoline? Assume its not going to blow up once inside the vehicle transporting it?
  21. Aug 16, 2008 #20
    Though I was pissed, I didn't give the women a hard time at all. I simply took my package to another post office that wasn't going to give me a hard time. It was as simple as that, and there's no doubt in my mind that the contents of the package were of a non-hazardous nature. I don't plot and scheme, and I wouldn't try to sneak something through the mail that could be genuinely dangerous.
  22. Aug 16, 2008 #21
    So if I handed you a box and asked you to ship it for me in your airplane because I have no doubts in my mind that its safe, would you? (Keep in mind you have no idea whats inside the box)
  23. Aug 16, 2008 #22
    Hell, let me hit it home with a perfect example.

    You finish up flight school and get a job shipping cargo in a FEDEX DC-10. Would you want the lady working at the post office letting boxes smelling of gasoline onto your airplane because the guy who gave it to her said "Oh, its fine"?
  24. Aug 16, 2008 #23
    Eh, my limited science education has it that the vaporized fuel is much more dangerous than the gasoline.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  25. Aug 16, 2008 #24

    I sware, those canisters are empty its perfectly safe!

    Result: Everyone on the airplane was killed.
  26. Aug 16, 2008 #25
    I see your point, but, with respect to hazardous materials, doesn't the post office "take your word for it" every single time you mail a package? For all they know, you're shipping dynamite. There are no inspections.

    As what is admittitly a matter of personal opinion, if they're willing to excersise such a lax attitude in that respect, why should "my word" be any less viable than that of the guy who just mailed a package containing unknown material?
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