Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Feel Like a Giant Dork

(but probably shouldn't)

Last night after dinner Aaron and I were sitting around watching television, when I noticed that he was curiously sniffing the air.

"Do you smell that?" he asked.

"Smell what?"

"Something burning."

I sniffed. "Yeah, actually. I do."

We first deducted that the smell was not coming from within our apartment, so then we headed out into the hall, where the smell was much worse. Then I looked at the light and noticed that the air was a little smoky.
"What should I do?" I asked Aaron and he ran outside to see if there was something burning out there. "Should I knock on the neighbors' doors?"

"Yeah, sure," he replied. "See if any of them burned anything, and maybe that's what I'm smelling."

So I knocked on the next-door neighbor's door, where, it turns out, they were having a birthday party and there were about 20 people there. No burning coming from in there, but they noticed the smell was really bad and the smoke when they came out into the hall (yes, all 20 of them).

Then we knocked on the door across the hall, where a new family had just moved in. They didn't burn anything either, but also noticed the smell and the smoke in the hall. They joined the crowd formed on the small landing trying to figure out what was going on.

Lastly, we knocked on the door of the really shy couple across the hall. The husband opened the door, and looked confused, but assured us that he didn't burn anything and then shut the door in my face. Par for the course there.

Aaron knocked on some of the doors downstairs, but no one down there had burned anything either. We were all starting to feel walls and the ceiling to see if maybe it was inside the walls because it kind of smelled electrical. Then I looked down to see Aaron on his hands and knees sniffing around the heater in the hallway downstairs.

Yes, that's right. There was no fire. The heater turned on and the smell was the heater burning up the dust that was in there. Stinky? Yes. Dangerous? Probably not. Embarrassing? Definitely.

I felt so bad for disturbing all my neighbors' evenings, even though they assured me that we could always disturb them if we smelled something burning. I still kind of feel like a dork about it though. Fire is one of my biggest fears, and so I tend to overreact when I smell something burning. At least they all overreacted a little too, because it really did smell like a fire in the building.

Want to know what makes me feel even worse? The neighbor lady from the apartment next door brought us over a huge slab of birthday cake about an hour later, I'm assuming to thank us for alerting them of possible danger. We've lived there over a year, and last night was the most time we've really spent talking with the neighbors. I kind of feel like an ass. But hey, maybe this is our chance to get to know the neighbors better. Yeah, that makes me feel slightly better, yet still like a giant dork. Gah! This is such an example of my social awkwardness at its worst.


At 10/24/2006 11:30 AM, Anonymous anne nahm said...

I don't think you are a dork. I read once that they have done psych experiments where they put the subject in a room and then start smoke coming out of the air duct.

If the person is alone, they almost always go and get someone immediately. If there is another person in the room that doesn't seem to notice/care? They will sometimes sit in the room until it fills with smoke.

So you are the trend setter with your ability to start looking. Regardless of the funny results :^)

At 10/24/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger Jonathon said...

I'm imagining all 20 birthday party attendees wandering around your apartment complex behind you, sniffing the air and looking for a fire.

That is hysterical.

PS: Don't feel like an ass, this happens every year when I turn on the heater for the first time. I spend about 20 minutes wondering if I've started a fire.

At 10/24/2006 12:45 PM, Blogger CPA Mom said...

You did absolutely the right thing. I'm proud of you (coming from a perfect stranger, I'm not sure that means much to you!)

Enjoy your cake and get to know your neighbors.

At 10/24/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger Kelley said...

One year in college, my husband and I rented an old house with gas heat. We'd had to call someone to light the pilot in the gas oven back when we'd moved-in, so we assumed we needed to call him back to light the heater when it started getting cold.

We waited a few weeks too late to call him, and in fact we had houseguests stay over for the weekend, huddling under piles of blankets at night in the brutal cold. We explained that our heater wasn't working yet.

The next week, we called the guy to come out and light the heater. He came, and informed us that it had been lit all that time. All we needed to do was turn up the thermostat.

Now THAT, that is embarrassing. Your story is really cute! (I wish my neighbors would drop by with cake every once in awhile...

At 10/24/2006 3:11 PM, Anonymous TB said...

Last night it got down into the 50s here and it was the talk of the news. The 11oclock newscast actually had a story about how when you turn your heat on (as if 55 degrees is cold enough to turn it on in the first place) you shouldn't worry if you smell something burning, that it's just the dust burning off. So apparently you're not the only person whom this has happened to.

At 10/24/2006 4:13 PM, Anonymous mamatulip said...

I would have done the exact same thing. Honestly.

At 10/25/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Deanna said...

Aww, don't feel bad about alerting your neighbors. You did the right thing! At least you got cake out of the deal. My husand and I lived in an apartment for years by this older lady and almost never spoke to her. When we didn't see her for several days, we worried that she might have died in her apartment!


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