I do not know who the most observant person in the world is, I just know it’s not me.
When I took my car in to a new VW mechanic (new to me), he told me I should be using 91 octane gasoline. That stunned me. I’d never used anything but the cheapest regular gas. In fact, since these old air-cooled engines are not exactly luxury models, I figured they were built to use plain ol’ regular gasoline. When I voiced my surprise, he said that the octane rating was marked inside the gas flap, but that it had probably been worn away.
I had to laugh today when I opened the flap to get gas. There is was. Not even faded after 43 years. I have opened that flap a thousand times or more over the years. I wonder when I stopped noticing the message? Years. Maybe decades.
I must have seen it when the car was new. Odd that it never occurred to me what the words meant even though the notification was in German. Odder still that all the mechanics I’ve had over the years told me plain old regular was okay.
I just checked my manual — I still have that after 43 years, too. Apparently, since I’d been driving VW bugs for years before I got one of my own, I never bothered to read the manual, because the necessary octane was listed there, too. And so was the information I’ve been seeking ever since lead was removed from our gasoline supply — Yes, I can use unleaded gas. VWs were built specifically to use unleaded gas. I had a small stock of lead substitute that I’d been using, and it worried me what I would do when it is gone, because when it is, it is gone permanently. Not available anywhere.
One of these days I should read the whole manual to find out what else I never knew. Or not. The car has managed to survive all these years, and now that I’ve found a real VW mechanic, it runs like it always did.
I’ve known for a long time that I’m not observant, so I try to pay particular attention to things. The bark on a palm tree.
The tiniest wildflowers,
The prickles on a baby Joshua tree.
If I keep at it, maybe I will become the most observant person in the world, but honestly, I’m fine with just noticing . . . anything.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.