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Journal jamie's Journal: The hot new Chevy Inferno

So while I was busy doing something else this afternoon, I was walking through a parking lot when I spotted a stalled car that's smoking. My first thought was that it blew a radiator hose, since the white smoke looked a lot like steam, and I have never seen that much come out from under a hood before. But as I walked closer, I saw little drops of orange fall into a puddle underneath. Aha, I realized, the engine's on fire.

The girl, still sitting inside, couldn't have been over 18. Her most notable feature was that, as I walked up, she was still sitting inside. My exact words to her, and keep in mind there was a prodigious amount of smoke billowing up directly in front of her, were: "do you know your car's on fire?" She said, "I don't know what to do!" I said, "you really want to get out of the car."

So she did, holding a lime-green cell phone that I'm sure was very stylish, and started to explain that she was out of town and didn't know what to do. I strongly suggested calling 911, told her where she was so she could tell the fire department, and ran off to try to find an extinguisher.

Logical place to find a fire extinguisher is an eating establishment with a kitchen, right? Aren't there, what do you call them, fire codes? Of the three that bordered this parking lot, the trendy café and the Subway claimed not to have one. Maybe they thought I was the leader of a tricky gang of extinguisher thieves.

The third, a Middle-Eastern place where the owner recognized me, handed theirs over immediately, but while I had run the eatery-gauntlet, the insulation and plastic under the hood had turned itself into thick black smelly smoke, and one of the front tires had caught like a candle.

By the time I got back to the car, a cop was already there, and there was extinguisher white stuff on the pavement. OK, good, a professional. It was still burning though, maybe not as much as before, but flaming oil was still dripping into a nice flaming puddle underneath. That was cool.

The cop's role, that I could see, involved dressing in fireproof gear (did you know all cop cars had a fireproof suit in the trunk?), staying upwind, and waiting for the fire department to arrive. Of course by the time the fire truck arrived the interior was burning and they had to soak the whole car.

Anyway, shortly before the firemen open the door and spray in the water, sending flames shooting out the other side, the girl turns to me and the other guys standing around watching, and asks us whether we think the car will still be driveable. After we gently explain that cars with incinerated engines don't go, she pauses for a moment, thinks about that, turns to look me in the eye, and asks:

"Do you have a light?"

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.