I’ve been waiting around for something to write about, since my daily life isn’t all that newsworthy most days. Of course, this being a blog means I can blather anytime about anything and nobody will arrest me. But today is extra special, and it displaces the rant I was brewing about douchey people. Which is OK, since I have to see some of these people from time to time and perchance they could stumble by here and become even more douchey toward me, which wouldn’t make me happy and lead to more blog posts and further douchieness until eventually my little corner of the world looks like Palestine after the Palestinians got there, and who wants that? Nobody, that’s who.

This humble reporter is writing from a cozy 56 degree office. Why so chilly on a chill rainy day, you ask? Well, pull up a Snuggie and I’ll tell you the story. We were snug as bugs in a duvet, just beginning to stir from a long winter’s nap (went to bed around 9 last night), and it was still dark outside. Which is as you’d expect at 5 or so during Daylight Savings Time. I shuffled out to turn up the heat a bit, brush my teeth, and brew some coffee. Just then, the lovely Tiff came out, wrinkled her nose, and asked if I smelled smoke. Why, yes I did, now that you mention it – something like a fried circuit, which is an aroma I know pretty well. We pointed our noses into every corner of the house and tried to find the source. I felt around the piles of electronic stuff in the teevee rack and the computer desk, checked lights and fans and cell phone chargers and toasters and everything that plugs in. Nothing was hot or particularly smelly. But the odor wasn’t going away.

Finally, after a half hour of searching, including waving flashlights around the roof and crawlspace, I called the fire department’s non-emergency number and described what was going on. “I don’t think it’s an emergency, but we can smell smoke in the kitchen,” I told the operator. She said she’d have someone check it out. Two minutes (!) later, emergency-types were showing up. The first one on the scene was a cop, who couldn’t seem to locate our address and went to the end of the block looking on the wrong side of the street. He didn’t notice my flashlight waving in his window. Moments later, the fire chief pulled up and I told him we’d called, and repeated my message to the dispatcher. Then a flock of sirens rounded the bend and two fire engines whirred up the street, spilling out fully equipped firefighters as they squeaked to a stop. A dozen large men with helmets and SCBA gear and boots and coats were looking intently at the house, while a captain came inside to investigate. The neighbor across the street stood on his porch to shout/ ask if we were alright, and lights came on in another house down the block. By this time the young men o’ the house had been rustled up and watched with bleary eyes while people trouped in and out of the living room.

wffinestThe captain said he smelled cinnamon. That’s nicer than some smells you could have in a house, but we hadn’t called the fire department because of potpourri. Failing to locate any smoke or fire, he sent a guy to fetch an infrared camera. It didn’t work, so they fetched another one. I peered over the firefighter’s shoulder as he pointed it around, looking for bright spots – indications of fire behind walls. He was very interested in the alarm clock, which Tiff turned on its face so as not to bother her with unimportant things like the time. It wasn’t the problem, but it was lots warmer than the rest of the room. A complete scan of all the rooms and the electrical panel turned up a whole basket of nothing.

They asked if the heat was working, and it had been all night – although we did have 2 outfits come to quote a replacement unit. The last time we had it serviced, the technician said the heat exchanger was getting thin, and our brand of package unit was known for not lasting very long. It’s 10 years old, so he said we could count on having to replace it in the next year or so. The captain asked us to turn up the heat to see if everything was OK, while a few firefighters were outside to see what it did. The furnace fired up, the exhaust fan whooshed to life, but no air was moving in the house. Then the smell came back. Everyone nodded agreement and wrinkled their noses, because now we had a stunning bouquet of electrical smoke. Apparently the blower fan has jammed, causing the motor to burn up.

I apologized for making everyone get all dressed up for nothing, but all I talked to assured us that it was no problem and this is what they are here for. One guy said he’d rather have busy days and quiet nights, but it doesn’t work out like that – and the problem we had is something they’ve seen about 8 times in the last year. Everyone who showed up was very professional and it was evident they took things seriously. Wake Forest’s Finest were happy to go back to the station, and we were happy they didn’t have to use the axes or hoses they brought along.

We get a new furnace on Tuesday. Good thing we have lots of blankets, as it’s not supposed to be 70 degrees again in the next week…