I think  the time had come to quell my dream.  (No, I don’t mean the dream of Anne Hathaway… I am not ready to give up on that dream just quite yet.) I mean the fire extinguisher dream. Sometimes you just have to let go and move on.


I had stormed out of the office the day before, with the fishbowl’s fire extinguisher in need of recharging. For those of you just joining this tale, the fishbowl was the gas bar in which I was employed during 1986/87.  To that point in my life I had never used a fire extinguisher and always dreamed what it would be like to spray the chemical powder in the event of an emergency. Working alone at night the temptation was to fulfil my dream, grab the fire extinguisher in the corner and spray the parking lot. Unfortunately, my conscience would not allow me to go through with such actions without having an actual emergency and those were few and far between. It got to the point one night when I noticed the fire extinguisher was losing its charge I took the extreme action and surrender to my lust; my reasoning for spraying it was to force the office into acting and getting us a new one. That night I had fulfilled my dream, to a point. Yes, I had used the extinguisher but because it was not on an actual fire it had been anti-climactic and somewhat of a let down. The office did not take me seriously when I demanded to have the big red fire extinguisher recharged and so as I marched out of the office I warned, “We may not be so lucky the next time!”

The next morning I came to work and passed the day, pumping gas, checking oil, giving directions and looking busy whenever I noticed the office staff glancing out the window. It was just after 3 PM, the last hour of the shift that I sat at the desk to total up my shift reports for that day. As I had my head down, trying to figure out why my report showed I missing 265 dollars in cash, the sound of braking tires screeching to a sudden stop interrupted my mathematics. I looked up to see a large car stopped in the parking lot with two large, serious-looking men jumping out and headed in my direction at a hurry. The first man had a small fire extinguisher in his hands like the kind you would keep in your kitchen under the sink. He broke into a run. The guy behind him pointed beyond me and shouted, “Get a fire extinguisher!”

I spun around in my chair to see what all the commotion was about and there, stopped in the road, ten feet from the gas shack and its defective collection of pumps, was a car, thick black smoke billowed out from under the hood and on the pavement underneath its trunk was a flaming patch of oil.

My eyes widened with excitement. I was just what I was longing for! The real emergency! My dream was coming true just the way I imagined it. A smile appeared on my face in the midst of the panic and confusion happening around me. I leaped from my seat, grabbing the large fire extinguisher  as I ran through the door. I tried pulling the safety pin as I darted around the gas shack, but my fingers were unable to find it. I glanced down and saw it was already gone from several nights before.

The two men were using the small extinguisher to spray under the hood coating the engine with the smothering white powder. The panic-stricken driver still sat behind the wheel shaking his head in disbelief. I ran around to the back of the car where the blazing patches of spilled oil burned.

I was almost delirious with joy; expectation. My dream coming true at last after so many years of longing! I was finally going to use a fire extinguisher in a real emergency! I pointed the hose at the flaming oil, then squeeze the handle to trigger the foam.

The fire extinguisher only sighed.

Then died.

The stupid thing wouldn’t work.

It was empty.

I decided to dream of something new.

Maybe something with bubbles.


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