Our fireplace, recently. Do you smell gas?!
What a day! What a week! What a month, and it’s only halfway through. In my nearly 10 years as a PI, I have not yet had a month with so much juggling. Four seminars in the span of a few weeks, including one coming up in Toronto. On different projects and topics, including one on student fellowship application tips. Five different grants, two new students (now 6 in total) in the lab, teaching, preparing handouts, exams, grading, meetings, biosketches, grant reviews, manuscript reviews, papers being written, rewritten, submitted, resubmitted. And on and on.
STOP! Before I blow a gasket! And now for something completely different, but more irritating than anything mentioned above.
This Sunday, we warmed up the ole TV to get our fix of the second episode of this season’s Downton Abbey (fearful of a downgrade to Downton Place). As it has been a bit nippy here in the midwest, we turned on the gas fireplace that we installed almost 10 years ago–except for the snap-crackle-pop of the logs, the gas fixture could pretty much fool anyone. Complete with ashes that glow. And it warms the room nicely. Well it did, until…
Until we began to smell gas–or more accurately, the odor added to natural gas to warn of gas leaks. Well, we shut off the gas in the fireplace, watched Downton, and got on with our lives.
Thus arises the question or who to call to deal with the problem. Swamped as I was at work, I nonetheless remembered to bring a old energy bill so I could call the gas company for advice on who might be able to check out the problem and repair it. I placed the call from work, about 12 miles from home, at 3 pm. That was a big mistake!
“Do you smell gas?”
“I did, but not right now…”
Name. Address. Customer ID. etc.
“But I just want to ask a question, do you know who might be able to look at our fireplace?”
“Our team will, they’ll be there within the hour.”
“Uh, no, how about Friday morning?”
“It doesn’t work like that. If you smell gas, we have to come check it out within the hour. Those are the regulations.”
“But I’m at work! I can’t leave for home now.”
“Well, they’ll do what they can from the outside, and shut down the gas if they have to.”
“You mean I won’t have heating when I get home? But I DON’T smell gas! I’m not even at home.”
“But you said you smelled gas. Whenever anyone says that, we have liability laws that require a visit within the hour.”
“Okay, I SMELLED gas. Past tense. It’s gone, over, done, finito. Now there’s NO GAS. So cancel the visit.”
“I can’t do that sir. If you said you smelled gas, then we need to check it out.”
“But no I say I DON’T smell gas! Why not accept that! As I said, I’m 12 miles from home. I couldn’t possibly smell gas from here. Check where I’m calling from, it’s the medical center!”
After two supervisors, it was no good. I even pulled the P-card: professor, that is. All that did was have the supervisor cal, me professor, rather than Mr. Caplan.
My spouse managed to get home as they were shutting off our gas, about to send our guinea pig into enforced Siberia. But all is well now. Another day in the trenches.
And if you smell gas, think twice before calling “SNIFFY:”
Sniffy says, if you smell gas….
- If you detect a faint odor of natural gas, check the pilot lights. If the pilot light or burner flame is out, shut off the gas supply. Allow ample time for any gas accumulation to escape before relighting.
- If you smell an odor or know there is a damaged gas line, do not light any matches, candles, cigarette lighters, flashlights, motors or appliances. Don’t use the light switch, telephone or cell phone.
- Get everyone out of the building. Call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX to have the gas shut off from a phone not located in the building.