Pants on Fire

There is an expression, “it made my blood boil,” that has a negative connotation, but to me it seems it’s the most amazing thing that two people can do to each other, make each others blood boil.  We talk about a good-looking man or woman as “hot” and we see fantastic sports cars or boats and say they are “hot” and it seems to be that FIRE is one of those elements associated with good not bad…unless it’s of course an actual fire, like in the woods or your house…

…SO at work last week, my final job of a day ended with a customer’s sink having very low water pressure and my hearing a “gushing” sound coming from the crawl space.  THIS, by the way, is seldom, actually, it is never good.  The next day I started my work day at a house I worked on for most of the winter; fixing damaged sheetrock from leaks and painting all the walls and ceilings and doors and trim, and was there to oil the decks for the season.  After moving all the furniture and sweeping the decks and getting ready to start my task, I walked back through the house to go out to my truck and smelled the most awful burning bad smell I can describe, coming from the floor of the dining room!  I sniffed myself around the house, like a truffle hog in some European country side!!!  sniff-sniff-sniff, walking all around the house, in and out of every room,  trying to identify the smell, trying to narrow down from where it was originating, going so far as to run to a construction site next door to see if they were pouring hot tar or soldering copper pipes…nope, the smell was in THIS house where I was working and I became extremely upset.  There was nothing on, or in use, other than the things that had been on and in use days before when the homeowner’s were still there, I didn’t turn anything on or off…  What to do??!!  Do I stand in the dining room and wait to hear flames or see fire?  Do I stand in the dining room and wait for the smell to worsen??  What are the “rules?”  What does one do in such a situation?!  A man working at the job next door, happened to be a local first-aid volunteer and he was kind enough to come over and sniff around with me, and told me that I absolutely should call the fire department, that it smelled like an electrical fire to him as well, and that they can smoulder for hours and days and even weeks until they burst into flame, and so I called the police and told them I was worried that there might be an electric fire in the crawl space, of a house that is not mine, but I am here working and I am really concerned, that I see no smoke and no flames but that the smell is overwhelming and I am very unsure what to do, as I am just here to oil some decks!

Needless to say, it became a very big deal very quickly.  All those hardworking volunteers on the local fire department crew, having to stop what they were doing and take time out of their day to get to the fire station, and then get geared up (and so many layers and it was SO hot and muggy) and then come to this property.  I felt like I apologized to every one of them, but Wow!  When the fireman took the crawlspace cover off of the house, the smell covered the entire cul-de-sac, to which another fireman said to me, “it’s a good thing you called.”  Within an hour the power was cut to the house and many workers were searching for the cause.  Two days later, and many hours of man-power, and much loss of perishable food from the refrigerators and freezers, I find out from the homeowner that it was an air conditioner that blew, and that “maybe it made a smell.”  Maybe it made a smell?!  I read the email and felt like such a jerk!  I felt like he was implying that I overreacted.  I felt bad and felt mad at the same time.

I know people and have known of people who lost all or almost all of what they had in fires, and I also know people and have known of people who lost all or almost all of what they had in water.  I felt and still feel, quite strongly that the devastation of losing everything surely is far more significant than the expense of paying an electrician and the cost to restock groceries…I did not know if he wanted me to say I was sorry for calling the fire department, or say I was glad it was “only” a broken air conditioner system, so I said I was glad his house did not burn down.  And I meant it.  I was very glad that his house did not burn down.  I decided not to ask if he was implying anything, nor to say I was sorry for all the trouble that he then had as a result of my calling for help; having to pay an electrician, having to have his electrical panels re-inspected by the township, having to lose a lot of food…so I did the only thing that felt right to me, I said a little thanks to the universe, that it was not a fire and that I did what the cop, the fireman, the local first aid volunteer, and one of the electricians said was good, that I called because “you just never know.”



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