“Hey, did you know your fuel tank cap is missing?” Mr. Enrique asked when I pulled up in “Ogre,” our dilapidated Nissan Condor truck[i], to give him a jump-start.
“What? Ooh no!”
It was a face-palm moment: yet another numbskull move to mark against my name!
“I must have forgotten to put it back on when I fueled up yesterday afternoon! Ay, what a bummer!”
I had placed the cap on top of the tank, and when the attendant finished fueling I had paid and gone my merry way. The gas station exit has a moat of deep potholes, and I assumed the cap must have surely fallen as I navigated passage to the paver stones of the main avenue.
Oh Lord, you know that part is not going to be easy to find, and it probably won’t be cheap either! Please help us find it!
For the moment I tied a plastic bag over the opening. I was sure that Ogre wouldn’t mind: he is no stranger to going cap-less! The fill spout for the radiator had no cover for the longest time, and for over a year the fuel tank opening sported a plastic bag secured with a strip of inner tube, which was later replaced with a block of rounded to plug the aperture! Unfortunately, such uncivilized fixes lead to water and grit in the tank, a diesel engine’s nightmare. I didn’t want to repeat those problems! Immediately I called some friends who operate a food stand across the street.
“Tell the kids I’ll pay them a reward if they find the gas cap!” I told Nadia. But alas, even with such motivation their search was to no avail. Samuel went to town the same day and I asked him to look too, all without success.
I gave up any hope of retrieving the missing gas cap, and planned to make a trip across the river to Brazil to see if I could find a replacement, but the next few times I went to town I had so much to do that I never made it to Brazil. Then one day while I was waiting for a shuttle car at the terminal, one of the taxi drivers approached me.
“Hey, you’re from the internado aren’t you?” I’ve waited for a ride enough times now that I recognize quite a few of the taxistas, and I knew this guy had taken us to the school before.
“Yeah,” I answered, expecting him to ask if he could enroll a daughter or nephew or some other relative.
“I have your gas cap!” he exclaimed.
“What? Really! How did you find it? Was it in the potholes by the gas station?”
“No! It was up there,” he motioned to a curve just up the road. “I saw it fall when you turned the corner. Then some guy on a motorcycle stopped and picked it up, but instead of chasing you down to return it, he went the other direction! So I chased him down and told him ‘Hey! That belongs to the internado!’ and he got attitude with me and said ‘so! What’s that to you?’ I told him that’s not the right way to do things and he said, ‘Well give me ten bolivianosfor it at least!’”
I was amazed. The taxistas in general have never impressed me as being either particularly honest or concerned about doing the right thing. Most of them are constantly scrapping with one another over passengers and are usually quick to take advantage of people. I was tempted to think that he was just making up the whole story in hope that I would give him a reward!
Come on, you should give him the benefit of the doubt! You should always try to think the best of people! An inner voice reminded me. If he really only wanted to make money he would have just sold it like the other guy was going to do!
So I smiled and thanked the taxistas profusely and gave him double the money back that he had spent to ransom the lost cover! The thought occurred to me that God turned the attention of just the right taxi driver at just the right moment to see everything that happened and return the missing cover! Praise Him! What a merciful God!