It’s a gas gas gas

Folks, here is one truth I know: There is only one correct response if your significant other says, “You go on. I’ll call the fire department.”

That’s right – hit the road! You’ve been given the green light, and your best guy/gal is shouldering the worries of whatever the fire department may be coming out to tend to so go take on the world!

Oh, wait. I mean, exactly the opposite of that.

The other day my wife and I were planning on heading out for the day, and my wife told me she smelled something. “Don’t you smell that?” she said. My wife walked around the house like a bloodhound, nose in the air, sniff-sniffing wherever she went. “There. There. Not there. There.” Eventually, I decided to uproot myself from my chair and walk the house with her. After a few sniff-sniffs, I caught a whiff, too. And it was strong.

We found the smell concentrated in an upstairs bathroom and our downstairs laundry closet. As we wondered aloud if it was a gas leak, it was at that moment that my wife and I both had the frank discussion where we admitted to ourselves that we did not know if, in fact, we had gas coming into our house. I am sure some of you mock us for that. Just a hunch an even higher percentage of you are saying, “Wait, do we have gas?”

After a thorough search, we found no culprits. I told my wife that we should cut the air up a little higher, head out of the day, and come back when it had all sorted itself out. This is the same approach I take to car repair and personal health.

My wife said she was not going to leave the house like this. At that point, she decided we should call the fire department and that I could just go on, if that was my prerogative.

I am sure you are not surprised to learn that I did not, in fact, head on out. Even I am not that dumb. I called dispatch and explained to the operator what was going on. She instructed me to get everyone out of the house and that the fire department would be there soon. My wife, son and dogs were already out back. I called up for my daughter and told her that we had to evacuate the house. She said, “I need to find my hairbrush!!!!” I told her to Get. Out. Now. “I’M LOOKING FOR MY HAIRBRUSH!!!” I ruin everything, with silly little evacuations and such.

The fire department showed up in a few minutes, and they searched the house and found nothing. Their meters weren’t showing anything harmful. They checked every room, every appliance, every nook and cranny. They told us we could come back in, and my wife, poking around in the laundry room, found the culprit – a gasoline-soaked blouse that was wrapped in a towel and tucked up snug against the washing machine.

We sorted it out in short order. A cousin who is staying with us had headed out early in the morning. She stopped to get gas, and the gas splashed back on her. She came back to our house, showered upstairs, and rinsed off the blouse. There were items in the wash, so she put the blouse in a towel by the wash and sent us a text letting us know what the deal was, as she didn’t want to wake us at 5 in the morning.

Turns out, said text never left the starting blocks. She was very apologetic about it, and we told her not to worry about it because, hey, if nothing else, column material.

I told the firemen that I really appreciated them coming out, and I was sorry if I had sent them on a wild goose chase. They assured me that they would much rather residents give them a call when in doubt, rather than, say, crank up the air and just hope it all blows over.

Hopefully we won’t be calling them anytime again soon, but I am relieved to know that they are quick on the draw when responding. Should we have a similar event in the future, I won’t hesitate to call them. But I will make sure I keep an emergency hairbrush outside of the house, just in case.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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