Today, as I was preparing for another day of gainful employment, I could hear a loud hissing from the street below. It was like the largest, angriest snake in the world. I looked out from my third-storey window in this low rise apartment complex. Peering through the thinning leaves of the tree outside the bedroom window, I thought that perhaps the backhoe across the street had blown a compressor or something. SEP, right? Off to the shower I went.
While in the shower, gustily singing "Cthulhu loves the little children..." I heard sirens. Fire truck sirens, and lots of them. They stopped nearby, but no fire bells were ringing in the building. SEP, right?
Out I got, to dry and get dressed for work. Still I could hear the hissing, as loud as ever, and now I smelled gas.
Natural gas, that is. I dried and dressed rapidly, and looked out the window. I saw lots of firemen, all in gas masks. Their truck radios were making those strange beedely-boop noises that fire truck radios make.
Police officers were arriving in force. All of these folks were running about, hooking up hoses and blocking traffic and so on. And now from the kitchen window I saw that the backhoe has punctured a gas main at the house across the street. (You probably had that part figured before now, right?)
So, I could have just left for work, but I couldn't leave my cat behind to be gassed. What to do? I stood there thinking, kind of woozy because the gas was now pretty intense. For some reason I decided I had to eat the rest of the chocolate chip cookies before doing anything else.
So, as I munched cookies, some firemen came and banged on the door of my apartment (and all of the others, too). They told me that the building was being evacuated. So, I grabbed my curious cat, stuffed him into the cat carrier, got a thin coat, and left.
It was cold and drizzly and my jacket was too thin. I walked a few blocks down to the veterinarian's, and the nice ladies working the desk said my cat and I could stay. (Clever, I thought, bringing my cat along.) For two hours we sat and waited. "Where's the kaboom?" I kept thinking. "Is there going to be an earth shattering kaboom?"
But eventually they got the gas shut off and let us all go home. I dropped the cat off, and aired out the apartment. Then I went to work. And only then did I have a bad moment where the image of firemen in gas masks at my door made a small but scary personal connection with September 11th. I wonder if the firemen thought of that as they walked the building and sent us all out. It's just a four story building, but they must have been waiting for the kaboom.
Firemen and policemen (and women) don't get paid enough.