Fact Check

Urination on Frozen Gas Cap

A roadside samaritan renders innovative assistance to a stranded motorcyclist.

Published Dec. 31, 1998


Claim:   A roadside samaritan renders innovative assistance to a stranded motorcyclist.


Example:  [Smith, 1986]

It was during a cold spell in the middle of last winter when a van driver passed a motorcyclist who had broken down. It was snowing and, although the bike rider was well wrapped up in leathers and helmet, the van driver decided he had better stop and offer his assistance.

There was very little wrong with the motorbike — it had just run out of petrol. Although the driver had a spare can of fuel, unfortunately, the petrol cap had frozen stuck. Being a resourceful chap (and brave), the van driver unbuttoned his fly and peed over the cap to thaw it out. He refilled the tank and the bike rider, still wrapped up against the cold, mumbled a thank you and they both went their separate ways.

Some days later the van driver was called into the office at work and the boss showed him a letter he had received from a local vicar. It praised his helpfulness and expressed gratitude for the assistance he had given the vicar's daughter when she had broken down.1


Origins:   No one recalls hearing this tale prior to 1984 or thereabouts, but within a couple of years it was being related as a local occurrence both in England and Alberta,


Locks (and possibly gas caps) do freeze in Canada, but to get down to those temperatures would mean undriveable road conditions for a motorcycle. At least in southeast Ontario, motorcycles are put into storage around the end of October, with a few (fool)hardy souls keeping theirs on the road until middle or late November. Those bikes don't come out of storage until mid-March at the earliest. It's not the cold that makes winter bus riders out of summer easy riders; it's the impossibility of maintaining control of the beastie on snow and ice. Every turn, every stop, is a potential accident, and it only takes one little mishap to seriously injure the rider and cause hundreds of dollars of damage to the vehicle. One look at a great big bus coming your way and the thought of helplessly skidding under it is enough motivation to hang up the leathers for yet another season.

What makes this legend work is the mental picture of the van driver's unzipping himself and letting go on the girl's bike without being aware he was manhandling his willy in front of a lady. That the driver later discovers the girl is a vicar's daughter only adds to the embarrassment.

Though men of the cloth and urine would seem unlikely elements to find in the same story, at least one other legend puts them together:

A friend of a friend, who was a venerable old cleric, was driving through the summery Yorkshire dales when his car sputtered and conked

Cartoon of the legend


The padre was distraught; he had a wedding to officiate in an hour and now he'd run out of petrol. Then remembering that he'd passed a garage a short while back, he praised the Lord and, gathering his cassock about him, set off.

Upon reaching the garage, he enquired whether there was a receptacle into which he might put a gallon or so to alleviate his predicament. A pump attendant shook his head glumly, then pointed to a scrapheap out the back. "'Appen yowl fand summat over yon', reverun'."

The vicar scrambled about on the rubbish tip, but the only thing he could lay his hands on was a child's enamel potty. Filling it to the brim, he set off back to his stranded motor.

As he stumbled along the lane, the vicar built up quite a sweat, especially when he realised that the yellowy liquid was rapidly evaporating from his open receptacle.

He reached the car with but a little left and was just pouring the dregs into the petrol tank when a gleaming Bentley purred up. A dowager in the back, all wrapped up in mink, saw the red-faced clergyman administering the saffron-coloured fluid from the potty and wound her window down.

"Oh parson," she sighed, "I wish I had your faith."2

Barbara "Exxon-erated" Mikkelson

Last updated:   7 April 2011


    de Vos, Gail.   Tales, Rumors and Gossip.

    Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996.   ISBN 1-56308-190-3   (p. 101).

    2.   Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill.   Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths.

    London: Virgin Books, 1996.   ISBN 0-86369-969-3   (pp. 19-20).

    1.   Smith, Paul.   The Book of Nastier Legends.

    London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986.   ISBN 0-7102-0573-2   (p. 35).