By Jennifer Laurent: Freedom Newspapers
I have learned I am terrible in an emergency. Well, at least one that involves me.
Recently I realized we were more than halfway through my husband’s deployment and nothing all that terrible had happened. The lawnmower hadn’t broken, the sewer had not backed up and neither of our cats had fallen ill.
I made the mistake of mentioning my good fortune to my hairdresser one Sunday afternoon. I guess I jinxed myself because following my hair appointment I gathered my visiting sister, our shopping bags and went out to dinner. While there the server told us we looked “just like mother and daughter.”
While I appreciate the fact that someone thinks I resemble my sister, I would have had a child at 9 years of age if I were her mother.
Saddened that I looked like I could be mother to a 17-year-old we headed home for the evening. We unloaded groceries and a friend of mine came over for our weekly movie watching night.
I mistakenly decided that while I had help, it would be a fantastic idea to move our stove so I could retrieve the timer that had fallen into the space between the appliance and the wall and — while I was back there — take the opportunity to sweep and mop.
I got the broom and dustpan and while my sister perched on the counter to enjoy the show my friend and I pushed the stove away from the wall.
I grabbed the timer and had moved to get the broom when my friend said: “Jenn … I hear a hissing sound.”
I knew this wasn’t going to be good news, but I truly wanted to believe there was nothing wrong.
To show her she was imagining things, I moved my head to the space behind the stove and was overwhelmed with the smell of gas.
We had a problem.
I couldn’t call my husband because he was halfway around the world. And truth be told, I felt so stupid for causing a gas leak I didn’t want to call the proper authorities, even though I knew I had to do so.
My friend grabbed her phone and tried to call the emergency housing number. I sent my sister outside so she wouldn’t breathe in the fumes and looked for my cell. I found it and instead of calling the fire department, or 911, or anyone who could actually help, I found myself calling a friend of my husband’s who had told me if I ever had a problem to call him and he would help.
I reached him, explained the situation, and was not at all surprised when he yelled at me to call the fire department.
He also told me to open windows, doors, anything I could find to ventilate the house and then go outside and wait for assistance.
I told my friend to call for help and I was throwing open windows when the phone was thrust at me. The dispatcher needed to speak to me.
After spelling my street name twice and assuring the nice man that we had in fact left the house (and we really were going to be leaving it momentarily) I got off the phone and began the process of locating my cats, neither of which was pleased to be taken outside and locked in my car.
I then went to my wonderful neighbor’s and told them what was going on so they could know why my house could explode.
They joined us in the front yard as not one but two fire trucks arrived, sirens blaring, followed by a police car. Every person on our block stuck their heads out their front doors to find out what had disturbed our quiet little neighborhood.
We sat and watched as silver-suited people ran in and out of the house, inspected hoses and came to report that I did in fact have a gas leak and we couldn’t go back in for a while because there were a lot of fumes.
The nice man also told us they had called the proper housing people and they would stay there until someone came to fix the problem.
They assured me it was not my fault, but I still felt ridiculous for causing all the commotion.
We continued waiting for the repairman while chatting with the neighbors and trying to keep my teenage sister from going to get a date with one of the firefighters.
Eventually the repairman came and we were allowed to go back into the house. I released the cats from their carrier and they ignored me for two days. We watched our movie and life returned to normal, though I still feel bad for being at the root of the biggest excitement in my neighborhood in a year.
We took a few lessons from that evening. I have learned that you should never say out loud that things are going surprisingly smoothly, and when in doubt about a gas leak, call the fire department.
One good thing did come from the experience. When my husband called that night and ask if we did anything exciting that day, I could answer with an honest and resounding yes.