The Gasman Didn't Cometh

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The Gasman Didn't Cometh - Life in Three Acts


I awoke this morning with a very bad headache which didn't improve around 8am when I received a phone call while still in bed.

"Ms. Stone, this is your propane company. We need to swap out tanks and you must be home. Will you be there this afternoon?"

I groaned. I felt like crap. This service visit will prove a double whammy: the sound of the propane tanks reverberating and triggering more pain from my hyperacusis as well as thwarting the flirting propane guy from upgrading his game. The last time he was here, two weeks ago, he made a pass at me. He's quite handsome, but I'm not interested. My friend, Jane loves to say, "You never have to leave home..." That statement has become a mantra. 

I'm simply not up to any of this.

"Could you give me a window of time?" I asked. "I've things to do today."

"How about between noon and two?"

Again I groaned. "Ok, I better get my act ready now."

After hanging up, I got out of bed and walked, barefoot, into the hallway where I stepped on a sliver of glass. Howling in pain, I hopped, blood gushing, into the kitchen. It took a second to remove and another minute to staunch the flow. I've no idea how that got in the house, perhaps the pesky poltergeists are at it once more.

I made breakfast, played a bit on Bubblews, stared at a cat that I then thought was a log until I realized it was a cat. By the time I got myself ready, it was 10am. 

I first ran to my friend's cafe. We live far away from the supermarkets so I generally help her out when she runs low on supplies. She gave me a shopping list and then I went food shopping.

There are certain times when I can go food shopping during summer season. Usually from Friday night until Saturday night and on Monday mid-mornings. Unless I want to go in the middle of the night. Lately, I can't stay awake past 10pm, so that option's out. Today, it was nice and quiet with very few shoppers. I stopped off and picked up her deli products and was halfway through a very nice time pleasantly shopping when this inhuman shriek that went on and on stopped me in my tracks.

It didn't cease. It was a child screaming out of its mind, joined in pitch, tone and volume by someone imitating the child. Simply ghastly. And painful to someone like me suffering from a rare disease where sound's my enemy. 

All thoughts flew out of my head. In agony, I clutched my head, screaming out loud, "Knock it off!" 

Suddenly, the store manager, my friend, appeared. "Please help me," I said, crying in pain. At this point, I couldn't even see. "Stop it please. I can't think."

"What're you looking for?" she asked in sympathy. I handed over my shopping list. "It's up the aisle, just follow me."

I followed behind her and bellowed to the still ululating insane noise, "Just put an end to that child's misery and strangle it!"

In a second, there was silence.

Right after I checked out, still in pain, still crying, my friend came up to me. 

"What you said was the funniest thing I ever heard," she admitted. "Would you believe she goaded her child by imitating it? I had to find out who did this and pulled her aside. That behavior is unacceptable in this store."

On the way home, I dropped off my friend's food and supplies and raced home to wait for the gasman. I'm still in pain and now I gotta deal with this nonsense. 

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield, "I don't get no respect."

The Past

Two years ago, in a pique of anger, I changed propane companies. Things reached a fever pitch when the local one price gouged the shit outta me. This one, from another state, is reliable and cheaper. The summer house only requires one tank for the gas stove. It usually takes three years to finish as I do most my charring on the BBQ grill outside.

The handsome propane tank gasman made it evident he had a thing for me even back then. 


I wasn't interested. Even though he was there to service me, the only thing I want serviced is my gas. My friend, Jane, has this saying: I never have to leave home. What she means is that, despite my isolation and reclusive existence the past two years, I manage to meet men.

 She has sufficient empirical evidence to support this thesis: I met a boyfriend from two years ago right in front of her bakery/cafe. As well as the FedEx guy last year. And the propane gas guy. 

The propane gas guy is not a lover, nor would he ever be despite his gorgeous looks and kind demeanor. He's married. He also came over in the wrong truck.

"I can't fill the propane tank as it's too far away."

"I know. You usually swap it out."

We talked about nothing when he made a pass. 

I laughed. "Can you support me, like pay my mortgage?" I found that that was the most diplomatic way of thwarting men.

"No," he said, "however, if you want to have a good time..."

I rolled my eyes. Exasperated, I said, "I've enough of that to last a lifetime."

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The propane gas guy came over at 1:45pm. Clutched in his hand was a little peach pie in the box with a giant match sticking out. 

"Happy Birthday," he said and tossed it on the chaise lounge by my feet.

"What're you going to do, set fire to the house? Or blow me up with the propane tank?"

 I said, still under the weather from the screaming in the supermarket earlier that day.

He didn't find what I said particularly funny.

"I was here Thursday and dropped off the tanks."

"Oh, I didn't even go to that side of the house so I never noticed."

"You weren't here," he complained. I forgot to check in with the gas propane tank man for permission to leave my house, it seems. "And I hauled the pie since then."

He sat down on the deck chair and we kibbitzed a little. Then, I realized why I had to be here when he said,

 "I'll swap out the tanks and then turn on the pilots on your stove." With a heavy sigh, he got out and went to the back of the house. I heard some clanging and then he returned. 

I let him in the house and he lit the stove pilots. After he was done, he said, "I've an hour break. I wonder what I'm going to do."

Momma ain't no idiot. I responded, "I don't know about you, but I have to get to my friend's cafe. I accidentally forgot to drop off the Half and Half." With that, I pulled the gallon out of my frig and put it in a bag. 

He got the subtle hint. 

Before he left, he exhaled and said, "Guess I won't see you for two years 'cause that's how long it takes for you to run out of gas for the stove."

I smiled. "Take care and thanks for the pie. See you in two years."


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