This evening began like any other and ended with a 911 call and 2 fire engines in front of my house.

Let me take it from the beginning:

7:00 pm: I sat in a rather boring Continuing Education course on risk management that was only made remotely interesting because I was eating cheesecake. Cheesecake can make anything better. In fact I think they should let you eat cheesecake in all boring situations. It makes the time go by.

 So as an attorney droned on endlessly about how everyone likes to sue dentists for the pure joy of it and without cause, happier thoughts were running through my mind on, “how did they get the blueberry to swirl into the cheesecake so perfectly? Its magic I tell you!! Pure magic!”

7:30pm: I walked out of the boring CE course and to my car. I almost got sideswiped by a guy in a truck who decided that nodding at me as he drove by is enough of an apology. I sighed and got in the car.

7:31pm: I looked at the gas tank and gasped at the needle resting precariously on “E”. I silently prayed that my car would make it to the nearest gas station.

7:35ish : My car wheezed itself to the nearest gas station and got its fill. I then re-evaluated why I wait until my car is on fumes before I fill the tank. Maybe I like the thrill. ;)

8:00ish: I got home, walked inside, turned on the lights (this part is important for later) and then I smelled the offensive odor permeating my house.

8:01pm: I turned on more lights (important for later) and walked around looking for a dead deer in my house. Yes, that is what it smelled like. I looked all over. I luckily never found a deer or any carcass.

8:02pm: My mind traveled back to a time when the propane guy was at my house 2 years ago and told me to look out for the smell of propane in the house. Oh fabulous, the house smells like gas.

8:03pm: My inner 5 year old compelled me to call my parents. My father told me to call 911. My worried mother (who should not be alerted to such things decided to come over and I quote, “smell my house”) I decided to call the propane company first.

8:05pm: I’m on the phone with the propane company emergency line. The guy takes down my name and nature of the emergency. He tells me to open the windows. As he is getting my phone number, the call disconnects.

8:06pm: I call him back. He answers in a state of absolute panic. He says, “Caroline! You scared me! Thank God you are ok!! I was thinking the worst!” Friends, when the person who is supposed to keep you calm is panicking themselves, it is not a good sign.

He should not be the one to call if someone is standing on a ledge. He should not write hallmark cards either. It reminded me of last summer when the earthquake happened in D.C. and I was on the phone with my father and the line cut off right before I said, “omg it’s an earthquake!”

He tells me that someone will call me in a few minutes and to go outside. This is good advice because at this point I am now woozy from the smell.

8:10pm: I call my brother in law. He tells me to call 911. My answer, “but I don’t want to bother 911″. My own words sounded ridiculous to me.

8:12pm: I go to the backyard to check the propane tank. I realize that I have not cleaned up the neglected yard. It looks like the amazon back there. Monkeys are swinging from vines, the weeds are trying to wrap around me like those plants from Little Shop of Horrors (obligatory 80′s reference). I find the propane tank behind 8000 weeds, a tree that doesn’t belong there, and a vine that looks like it is angry that I am there.

8:13pm: I decide that I cannot make it to the tank, and even if I could, I wouldn’t know what to do when and if I got to it. Instead I decide to do some inappropriately timed de-weeding. I realize that if I do end up calling the fire department, I can’t let them see my backyard like this!! ( yes, I would be that girl who would clean the house before the maid got there so she wouldn’t think I am messy)

8:15pm: I’m de-weeding my backyard while my house smells like gas, still waiting for the propane guy to call me back and on my cell phone with my father. I’m an insane multitasker. He encourages me to call 911.

8:18pm; I am in the front of my house now and about to dial 911 when the propane guy calls. This second person is the opposite of the first person. The first guy was a nervous nelly, this guy doesn’t give a damn…at all. He tells me to go check the tank. I tell him the tank is in the middle of the amazonian rainforest and I can’t get to it. He laughs at me.

8:22pm: I battled mosquitos, spiders, and ants..oh God the ants and somehow managed to climb and dig my way to the propane tank. It reminded me of that movie Romancing the Stone when Michael Douglas was using a machete to cut his way through the forests in Columbia. I could have used a machete tonight. (will put that on my ‘to buy’ list..do they sell those at Home Depot? Is there a machete aisle? No? Ok.)

8:23pm: The guy told me to turn the tank valve to the off position. He must have really thought I was an idiot because he told me to turn it clockwise to close it. He was afraid I did not know what clockwise was so he said, “remember lefty loosy, righty tighty”. Seriously?

I let out a scream. He asked me what happened and I told him, “spiders!”. He laughed again. I told him the valve was already closed. He said, “uh…really? I wonder why?” That did not make me feel better.

He asked me for my address and said he has never heard of my city ever in his life. I live in a major city that everyone knows about. How is that possible? He said my town, “doesn’t ring a bell”.  I began naming major cities right next to me in the Washington D.C. area and he still didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Where does he live? Narnia? He kept asking me if I was sure that was the name of my town. Wow, he must really think I’m an idiot.

He then decides that I will be fine and he doesn’t need to come out to my house. He said I am too far away anyways. (how does he know that when he doesn’t even know where I am)

This is code for him being too lazy to come to my house at the potential gas leak. He actually tells me to just open some windows and all will be well. He says, “don’t worry maam, if your house was going to explode it would have done it by now”. Comforting. He should write greeting cards.

8:26pm: I finally decide to call 911. (this should have been my first call)

8:31pm: I am standing in front of my house on the phone with my father. Then I hear sirens in the distance. I hope that all of that artillery is not for me. The sirens get louder and louder.

8:32pm: 2 fire engines with sirens blaring show up in front of my house.

8:34pm: 4 good looking firemen go through my house and check everything. I am glad my house is clean. ( yes, I have issues. If there is ever an apocalypse, I will be the one making sure the carpets are vacuumed in time for the apocalypse)

8:40pm: The firemen declare all is well and advise me to have the propane company check it out too. ugh, that means I have to call them again. I am grateful for the fire department. They really are the best..and good looking too ;)

I almost wanted to apologize to them for the house not being on fire.

8:41pm: By this time all of my neighbors are outside and excited by all the commotion. They look to me for an explanation. They tell me I did the right thing by calling.

8:50pm: My mother arrives and finds everyone and their dog on my lawn. It was like an impromptu party.

8:55pm: My brother in law calls me to ask if I turned the lights on when I entered the house and smelled the gas. “Yes”, I said. He laughed and said he had a bet going with my sister about that. Apparently I could have blown up my house with that spark of electricity. Hey, in my defense, I turned on the lights and then I smelled the gas. He then asked me if I kept turning lights on after I realized it was gas…….I plead the fifth here..

9:00pm: My mother gives the house the sniff test. Yes, it stinks, is the diagnosis. By this time, I had left the front door open so long, all of the mosquitos, gnats, and moths had made my house their safe haven. I will be swatting at things the rest of the night.

9:15pm: I realized I had a serious case of the creepy crawleys. I kept swatting at bugs that weren’t there.  After foraging in the backyard, I was now covered with mosquito bites, and I had inhaled enough allergens to work me into an itchy tizzy.

10:00pm: After verifying that my house does smell bad, and that I am alive, my mom left. Thanks mom!

10:15pm: I shower and wash off the pollen, ragweed and God knows what else. My backyard is going to give me nightmares.

11:00pm: I am thankful that my house did not blow up today. When I thought it was going to I realized that I should get all the valuables out of the house. Then I had an epiphany that the only valuable in the house was me. I walked out of the house earlier tonight with just my house keys.

Interesting. I have always wondered what I would do in case of an emergency where I would have to evacuate the house. I even formed a game plan in my head of grabbing the diplomas and other important stuff and what rooms I would go into and in what order to get them. Tonight I learned I would leave it all behind and just get myself out. In a potential emergency it always becomes very clear what is really important.

Caroline

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