So, in Monday’s post I briefly touched on walking into our new place and smelling gas.
Sometimes I smell things. I have a very sensitive sense of smell.
It’s a mixed blessing. It definitely came in handy when I worked in a laboratory, but is markedly less so in, say, a dive bar bathroom.
I called my S.O. in to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating phantom smells, but he agreed — there was definitely a sulfur smell in the air.
(The sulfur smell is mercaptan. Natural gas has no distinct odor of its own, so the gas company adds mercaptan to it before pumping it into homes in order to help people notice leaks before enough gas builds up to explode. If you have gas appliances and you smell rotten eggs, don’t fuck around.)
(Have I mentioned how much I hate gas, by the way? I do. A whole lot.)
My S.O. called the maintenance guy, who showed up to fix a minor plumbing problem and test the air in the kitchen for a gas leak. Nothing showed up on his detector, so, naturally, we did what anyone would do in this situation.
We assumed it was something else and ignored it for a week until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“I’m telling you, it’s gas. It still smells like ghost farts and if we don’t figure out why then you’re going to go make coffee and blow the entire building sky high,” I explained, as I crawled out from halfway under the refrigerator.
If it wasn’t mercaptan, then it had to be another source of sulfur. Since we don’t have a cabbage-loving grandma here, I figured it had to be a dead thing and had gone in search of it, to no avail. Not that I would’ve been super stoked to find a rat corpse under my fridge, but I can handle dead things more easily than explody gases.
Thirty bucks later, and we had a shiny new gas detector. This is something that places with gas appliances should have anyway, but, more fool that I am, I had assumed that this might have been included with the smoke/carbon monoxide detector slapped up on the ceiling. I turned it on, warmed it up, calibrated it, and waved it around the stove like Jean de Florette looking for water.
And it immediately lit up and emitted a guttural shriek that could wake the dead.
“Fuck,” I said.
To make an already-long story short, the gas company came out twice — once to repair a corroded valve, then again to tighten another one. (Fixing the first valve released enough gas into the air that detecting the loose one would’ve been impossible at the time.) I, meanwhile, sat in the bedroom fuming. I knew something was fucky. And I was unimaginably pissed off that I’d allowed myself to be convinced otherwise.
For real. I’ve worked with poisons, herbal and otherwise. I collect perfume. I can use one whiff of a water sample to calculate the proper dilution for a B.O.D. I’ve spent a lot of time in trancework and journeying. I’ve spent too much damn time with my senses to let some guy with a faulty detector make me to doubt them. (And then maybe blow up.)
In a way, this rage is a positive thing. A few months ago, I wouldn’t’ve been able to feel it; I would’ve been having a panic attack instead. Sure, it doesn’t feel great to sit with a rage because you might’ve been blown up in your sleep the second your refrigerator’s compressor kicked on or one of your cats got a bit staticky, but still. Having enough neurotransmitters to be pissed off with is real nice.
So, if there’s a moral to this madness, it’s this: Have a gas leak detector. Know how to calibrate it. Your gas company’s emergency line is (probably) free, and they have a team of very nice people who’s entire job is to make sure you don’t die. Lastly, ward and protect your place, whether it’s a house, apartment, or van down by the river — but don’t mess around with gas leaks.
That said, there’s only one problem. We had trouble with a gas leak coming from one of the burners in our old apartment around October. The emergency tech shut off the gas line leading to it, but the maintenance guy re-tested it and didn’t find anything. If he was using the same leak detector then as he did this time around… Has my old apartment been leaking gas for the past three months?