One of the small and lesser troubles of my car is the gas tank's cover doesn't pop open when I pull the lever for it. Popping open the cover wouldn't be a problem if the car had that little notch to slide a finger in it, but the designers probably figured it was impossible something as simple as a lever latch could malfunction, and they left the panel smooth. Gas station attendants ask me to pop the lid open and I insist I did, it just doesn't work, and the process stalls until we find something to act as a lever. My keys are the only really convenient small pieces of stiff material around, even though they're a dumb choice. I make it a point to hand my trunk key -- the lever to pop open my trunk works -- but I can't guarantee the attendants use that, particularly since the grip is better on the ignition key.
The real solution is to get a real tool for it. My father suggested a screwdriver, but I imagine if I were a gas station attendant I'd be wary of spindles thrust at me, and I don't want to invite those complications. The right choice, it seemed to me, would be a shoehorn: small, convenient, impossible to mistake for something threatening, and just the right dimensions to pry it open. I'm not sure where I thought shoehorns came from, but I know in my childhood both my father and grandparents had plenty around. Apparently, though, in the past quarter century people have discovered the power of shoes that actually fit the wearer's feet, and I couldn't find any in the various stores I tried (a selection which, so far, hasn't included a shoe store).
I asked the young woman at the Customer Service desk at the nearby Capital K Mart where I could find a shoehorn. She looked at me as if I had just asked where to find a ``herring-trumpet'' or ``glue-potato'', an agglutination of syllables with perhaps an appealing rhythm but obviously no meaning, and she directed me toward the shampoo section. I resent this, and I still have to use my trunk key for the gas cover.
Trivia: In 1830 James de Rothschild claimed that in the event of war his rents would drop by thirty percent. Source: Ideas: A History From Fire to Freud, Peter Watson.
Currently Reading: Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938, R A Scotti.