My husband and I moved to a house closer to my in-laws which used a gas stove and a gas water heater. It turned out to be a good thing considering Hurricane Hugo had swept through that same year knocking out power for upwards of two weeks. Because of our gas water heater we were able to take hot showers.
Not long after the hurricane I came home from work to the smell of gas fumes in the house. For some reason I thought it was something normal; to smell gas fumes occasionally. I don’t know where my head was to think it was normal. I’ve lived in homes before with gas stoves and heaters; I know you shouldn’t be able to smell them. Maybe it was because I was pregnant at the time and wasn’t thinking clearly. Yeah. That was it: I was hormonal.
I changed my clothes, let the dog out, and then I left to go to my mother-in-laws, five blocks away, to pick up my daughter. When I got there I told her, “Pat, I could smell gas fumes in the house when I came home earlier. Should I be concerned?”
The look on my mother-in-law’s face was asking if I were truly the idiot who married her son. The look on my face answered, “Yes! I am that idiot!”
Pat replied, “Well, you should probably call 911 and have them check it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“But, Reese will get mad if it’s nothing,” I stated.
“He’ll get over it. Like I said; better safe than sorry,” she insisted.
I called 911 and told them what was going on. The dispatcher says to me, “Do not go back into the house until after the firemen can check it out.”
“What do you mean, ‘don’t go back into the house?’ My husband is going to be home soon, you have to hurry and get out of there. I’ll break it to him later about you being there, but you cannot be there when he comes home!”
The hesitation on the other end of the line said, “Am I really talking to an idiot?”
And my demands for her to hurry it up answered, “Yes! I am an idiot!”
I rushed home and just as I get there, two fire trucks, an ambulance, and a police car pulled up almost as the same time. I jump out of the car and open the front door for them. I patiently tap my foot and pace around in the yard for a whole ten minutes.
Finally deciding the house is not big enough to warrant more of a search than this, I ask, “Is there a gas leak?” I was assured there was no leak, they were just making complete sure before leaving. The fireman I was speaking with was attempting to fill out a report while I jiggled about anxiously answering his questions. “You guys have to get out of here! My husband will be home any second; and he’s going to be so mad at me for calling you and there is no leak. Can we do this later?”
“Uhm, no. We have to do it now and I promise you, your husband will be glad you called us.”
Unbeknownst to me, while I was arguing with the nice fireman guy about answering all those questions, my husband had pulled up. He was forced to park a block and a half away because of all those big, huge, red fire trucks (and ambulance and police car).
(Later, after the fact, I hear my husband’s side of the story) He had parked and got out to walk closer. He was rubber necking just like the neighbors. He casually strolled up to our neighbor, Cameron, and asked, “What’s going on?”
Cameron said, “There’s a gas leak.”
“Oh man,” exclaimed my husband. “I sure hope everything is okay.”
“Yeah, me too,” replied Cameron as his house was across the street from ours and if our house blew, his would likely catch fire too.
“Whose house is it?”
Cameron gave a slow look to my husband and answered, “Uhm, it’s yours, buddy.”
“What!” Reese rushed through pushing past all of his fellow rubberneckers and stumbled into the front yard. When he reached me he asked, “What’s going on?”
Much to my relief, the fireman, knowing very well of my apprehensions, took charge and explained everything to my husband. It turned out he really was glad I called 911 after all. Gee, whoda thunk?