A Minute of Your Time Please…


The other night, while home making dinner, I realized one of the pilot lights on my stove was out. No huge deal. I’d dealt with this before. So I lifted the stovetop, re-lit the flame and moments later, all was well again.

A couple of nights later, as I arrived home from work, I noticed a faint gas odor inside my apartment. I figured it had something to do with the stove, following the issue a few nights before, and sure enough found that the pilot light was out yet again. When I went to re-light it, the match wouldn’t take. After a moment of frustration I thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe this match not lighting was a sign. Maybe what I had thought had been a ‘faint’ gas smell was really too strong and if I lit the match, the place just might just blow. So I dropped the matchbook, paced for a few minutes and then called my parents (who still provide the best advice when I can’t figure things out myself). My mother agreed it was a little too late in the evening to call my super in a panic and advised me to open the windows and deal with it in the morning. Fine. Thank you mom.

Cut to an hour later when I’m on the phone with my sister. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Well the website for the gas company says if the odor is faint, to open the windows. When the odor is strong they say leave immediately. The odor is definitely NOT strong so I think I’ll be ok with the windows open until morning.”

Sister: “Well what if something happens while you are asleep?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Sister: “Well, wouldn’t it be better to call the gas company and have the guys come check it out even if it’s late, than something happening to you and you not wake up?”

Thank you Kristina! Now, however irrational this may or may not have been, it was definitely not good for my already over-imaginative brain. I agreed, better to call the gas-emergency hotline than—well….

So I hung up with her and decided I would make the call.

I’ve done this at least once before. The routine goes something like this:

– smell gas

– panic

– Google ‘gas leaks’

– waver internally

– call ConEd, explain the situation, waver a little more and try to convince the rep that I’m probably making a bigger deal of it than I need to and that there is no need for her to send anyone.

– end up waiting for the service guys to come and hope I don’t blow up in the meantime.

So here it was, the other night, 20 minutes after eleven, I’m in pajamas and I dial the emergency hotline. 25 minutes later the gas guys are at my door looking less than thrilled. They assess the issue at my stove as I pretend to be comfortable laughing on my sofa five feet away, watching a Seinfeld re-run as the minutes tick by and I am secretly cursing myself for being such a girl.

“Your pilot light’s out,” the guy says.

Yeah, I think to myself. I knew that. But is there a harmful amount of gas in the air that had I lit a match I would have blown up the building? I think to myself.

“And…?” I reply.

“And nothing. That’s it. Your pilot light was out.”

“And that’s normal? The gas smell?” I press.

“It’s fine,” he replies packing his things.

“Everything’s ok?” I continue, following them to the front door. “Why did the pilot go out in the first place? Is there anything at all that I should know?”

“It was just the pilot light,” they replied again, at this point on the sidewalk heading to their van. (And yes, I’m in my pj’s on the street).

Wow. I think to myself. How silly of me to think they would actually take two minutes to answer my questions… to ease my worries. Sure guys, you probably get dozens of calls just like mine and are sick and tired of trekking out at nearly midnight to tend to some pathetic damsel in distress who has afraid of a blown out pilot light. So we don’t know much about gas leaks. And we’d rather call you up than risk not waking up or worse, burning out buildings down.

Forgive us.


One thought on “A Minute of Your Time Please…

  1. Bridget says:

    I definitely would have called. But I do love that our first reaction to almost any unusual situation today is to google it! Andrea–I love your written voice.

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