A waste of fuel?

This morning at the gas station, I observed a full sized diesel truck left unattended with its engine running parked directly in front of the store's entrance. As I walked up to the main doors, I glanced into the truck's cab to see if there was anyone inside. It was empty and had been sitting there for a while.

I must have had a judgmental expression as I walked by. One of the gas station clerks had stepped out for a smoke break just before I arrived. When she saw me inspecting the idling vehicle with my judgey face, she chuckled and told me, "I wouldn't leave a diesel running like that either."

When the driver emerged from the store, he broke the typical North Idaho truck driver stereo type. He was dressed like an aging GAP model - the kind who probably irons their jeans and polo shirts. And his smile was the definition of smarmy; you could look up that word in any dictionary to find his grin. He winked at the cashier that was outside smoking - despite her appearing to be 15 years his elder. He also motioned one of his hands into a shooting action - fingers pointed like a gun, and even made the clicking noise to accompany the gesture.

Between the smug expression, the preppy clothing, the strut, and the creepy wink & finger pistol flirtation, everything about him reflected the behavior of an 80s era fratboy who has failed to grow up during the past three decades. He could easily have been one of the Alpha Beta antagonists in Revenge of the Nerds. This was not the kind of dude that liked to get dirty. I would be willing to bet the most strenuous work his truck ever endured was driving over speed bumps in a golf course parking lot.

Now you must forgive me. I generally try not to be a judgmental jerk. Yet it happens every now and then. I will pull on my critical pants and start concocting wild and villainous background stories for strangers I find annoying. Yes, I am fully aware that the measure to which I judged this random man in the gas station parking lot is the same measure in which I will be judged.

Yet despite my snap assumptions about him based on his appearance, I still cannot get over the audacity it takes for someone to leave the engine in a hefty rig running for an extended period of time. I find such actions to be mind boggling stupefying. I do not understand.

My argument could be based on environmental concerns. The careless waste of a finite resource. The wanton disregard of the pollution created. But this is North Idaho. There is a significant population in these parts who believe the science behind climate change is a hoax. A save-the-earth argument would fail around here.

My bewilderment is solely the result of pure financial waste. With the price per gallon in a gas guzzling vehicle, letting it sit idle on a mild spring morning is economically impractical. They might as well use twenty-dollar bills as kindling for a campfire.

Last week, when a friend of mine told me she waited in the drive through line at the coffee shop for 35 minutes to get her daily latte, I had nearly the same visceral reaction. Somewhere in my gut, I could sense that waiting in any drive through for more than a half hour with your car running is ridiculous.Park your car. Go inside. Be social. Get your coffee. Even if it lasts the same duration, you would save a half hour's worth of burnt fuel.

Of course, I could be over-reacting. Maybe letting your car or truck run idle for obnoxious spans of time is no big deal. There might be a perfectly innocuous reason this upstanding member of my community allowed his truck to rumble while vacant and awaiting his return. Perhaps I am nothing more than a judgmental jerk eager for any excuse to relentlessly mock a complete stranger.

But ...

I could be right.


  1. any idling for more than 10 seconds is a waste of fuel. It becomes more practical to shut down your vehicle and re-start it.

    1. Oh good, I don't feel alone.