I came home for lunch to let Cody out, and while waiting for her to do her business, I remembered hearing a radio ad sponsored by the gas company. Said radio ad stressed the need for property owners to keep the gas meter and the area around it clear of snow and ice.
So, being a good citizen, I stomped my way through the snow drifts to the meter and gently brushed the snow away. That’s when I noticed the definite odor of leaking natural gas. Did I panic? Of course not.
The meter is outside the house, and so was the smell, so I merely took Cody back inside and then returned to work. But on the way back to work, I realized that our neighbor on that side of the house is a smoker – and while he’s very careful with his matches and butts, what if an ember flew over the fence onto the leaking gas meter?
True, my house is falling apart, and I wouldn’t much care if it blew up – isn’t that why homeowner’s insurance exists? But I would sorely miss Cody.
Once back at work, I called Customer Service at the gas company, with the intention of setting up an appointment for them to come and check things out. I explained to the young man who took my call that the meter is inside a fenced yard, that the fence gate is locked, and both the lock and the gate mechanism are frozen solid. I explained that I would have to be home so that the service person could walk through the house to the side door, which is behind the gate and opens into the back yard.
Imagine my surprise when the customer service rep advised that a truck was already on the way, and he began reciting the gas leak/evacuation instructions. Say what? I cut him off and again told him that someone would have to be there, that I was currently at work, but that I could be home in about 30 minutes.
Excuse me? It’s minus 3 degrees, and if the gas is turned off, the furnace won’t work. My dog will freeze!
His response? Get the dog out of the house.
At which point, I made the panic call to my husband, whose place of employment is a little closer to home than mine. I knew he would get there first, but I immediately left my office so that I could get there, too – it might take both of us to get Cody out of the house and into one of our cars.
About 10 minutes into my drive, my husband called to say that the gas company had already arrived, climbed over the fence, and replaced a coupler on the meter. He told me to go back to work since everything seemed to be OK.
Halfway back to work, the phone rang again. (Don’t worry – I have SYNC so everything comes through the car speakers without distracting me [much] from my driving.) This time, my husband told me that he had just gone back outside and could still smell gas – he could smell it from several feet away from the meter whereas earlier I could only smell it after brushing the snow away. Not good.
This time, hubby called the gas company, and they sent out another service person. The second service person advised that the first person had not tightened everything properly.
Now, I can understand wanting to take shortcuts on your job when it’s minus 3 degrees outside. I can understand a mail carrier maybe skipping a house or two, or the news carrier throwing the paper from the street instead of walking up to the house. But a gas company worker? Really?
Well, to end a story that somehow got longer than I intended – we no longer smell gas around the meter, and we did not have to evacuate. All’s well that ends well (if you’ll excuse me for resorting to such an overworked saying).
PS: On the way back to work after turning around, I noticed my new car was making a horrible noise from the rear driver’s side area. You know, just like that thump-thump-thump when you have a flat tire – but there were no low tire warnings showing on the dash. Fortunately, it turned out to be just a large chunk of ice surrounding the rear tire. Hopefully, that will thaw and fall off at some point. For now, I just turn the CD player up a little higher.
Images by: Eddie S, and Cordelia’s Mom, respectively