Monday, November 17, 2014

Hard hats, big boots and black boxes with needles.

If you ever want to get anyone's attention pronto (and we know how hard that is) tell them you suspect a gas leak. Not much else invites such an immediate and generous response. Even with a bleeding head wound you still have to give the emergency room nurse your date of birth, your social sec. #, the deed to your house.

Without any interrogation the gas co. operator said, "We'll have someone there within the hour." She didn't ask for a credit card number.  She said get out of the house, don't turn on any lights or electrical appliances, don't light any matches, open all the windows.

I don't know what the life of an "I smell gas" investigator is like.    I don't know in what state of excitement he finds the smeller. The term "blow up" might be on their minds.  I think my computer is going to blow up if I fill the box marked "agree" on any internet interrogation.  

I smelled the gas in the little cottage in back of my house as I was about to get on the train to leave for a four-day trip.  For those who know me through this blog, I hate to leave my house.  I will do almost anything to avoid going far from my domicile and you would think a gas leak was a perfect excuse to abort the trip. I had already locked the front door and the back door of my house and getting the keys out of the suitcase was difficult.  I walked away from my property, the gas, the gas smell, the brain disorder (mine) and continued to the train that happens to be at the end of my block.  With every step, the words "blow up" clippety-clopped right alongside. On the train I had a stern talk with myself. I said, this is a chance to compartmentalize events and put them in perspective.  You opened the windows and shut down the in-take lever. Go on your trip and forget about the gas leak.

When I returned, I made the call and the gas team arrived 47 minutes later. The men (there were two) were tall and rotund. They wore hard hats and big boots and held black boxes with needles. They said, "When we leave there will not be a shadow of a doubt that it is safe."  How often have you heard that only to have the thing blow up the minute the truck pulls away?

I have to interrupt this banal post for important breaking news. I took a peek at my news feed and see that a probe has landed on comet 67P in a space first.  I just nailed down info on comets this weekend reading The Magic School Bus to my granddaughter.  (I also learned that 1.3 million earths could fit inside the sun - a fact that somehow scared the heck out of me.  The sun, unlike the Jimmy Dean Sausage man, is not a small friendly warm thing.  It is a vast, vast sociopathic star that makes everything else revolve around it.) Scientists hope the lander, equipped with 10 instruments, will unlock the secrets of comets -- primordial clusters of ice and dust that may have helped sow life on Earth. It is disturbing to hear that dust, my constant nemesis, also presents in space. When I hear ice and dust, that sounds disgusting but if it is going to unlock secrets, I'm all for it.  I wouldn't have thought that comets would be part of the big bang theory but that's just another surprise in the never-ending surprise factory that is space.  When the lander started talking to the scientists they were so happy they were dancing around acting all teen-agey and high-fiving like crazy.  Good for you scientists - it must have been a huge relief to get that first message.

(btw, the gas smell was due to a faulty pilot light in the stove.)

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