So I decided to put pants on for the first time all day and walk to the bodega on the corner for some nicotine. While traversing a section of sidewalk in front of the Beacon Theater (the local one, not the good one) I noticed the pungent aroma of natural gas. I paced around, sniffing through my congested nostrils to see if it was a case of wishful senses pretending that I was back on the job engaged in some repair work. A neighbor-friend walked by with her dog and I asked if she detected the scent as well. She did. I called the police to report the circumstance and waited for the proper authorities to respond. "No big deal," I insisted. "Don't send the whole cavalry."
They did. Seven fire trucks descended upon Main Street, closing off the intersections at either end. Some guys in fire-retardant gear approached me and I showed them where the utility company, Central Hudson Gas & Electric (whose last bill was outrageous, I may add), had done some underground work a few nights prior. I remember seeing them out there with their excavator and some guys messing with something in the ditch. I'd been drinking wine with a good chum all evening while the boys in blue collected overtime for shoddy craftsmanship. Anyway, the firemen agreed that the presence of natural gas was evident and called the utility service to send a crew to the scene. The block is still shut down so parking and traffic are hindered, but I can't bring myself to apologize to any inconvenienced parties. I did what I felt was right and may have prevented the loss of life and property; at the very least, a waste of natural resources was curtailed.
If you smell something, say something. Union pipefitters don't leave blatant leaks of combustible materials in high-traffic areas in their wake. Smoking saves lives. My work here is done. Carry on.