Five Minutes Ago I Felt

Monday, March 04 2002

Five minutes ago I felt that death was a sure thing. No joke. I was moving around in my laundry room, and in doing so knocked a Dust Buster (little rechargable vacuum cleaner) off a shelf. It fell into an area in the laundry room that consists mainly of natural gas lines and valves and things. It’s a crowded little space, and getting to it is even more difficult because of where the washer and dryer sit.

The Dust Buster fell, hitting something very hard, and immediately I begin to hear the sound of a ruptured pipe. "Oh crap! I just broke a gas line, and that rushing sound of air is the gas, what in the hell do I do? Am I going to suffocate here while I try to figure out what’s broken, and then when they come to find me after I’ve been missing for days the house will explode when someone flips a switch? If I move will I create static electricity and spark an explosion? That pipe seems to be moving a lot of gas, I must

do something. Who do I call? 911? Yes, my house could explode if I don’t do something, this isn’t trivial. But maybe I’m mistaken, let me take another look into the valve pit. I’m a handy guy, I can fix it. I’m going to die. My house is going to explode. Do something!"

So I open a the a large sliding glass door, then run back to the laundry room determined to shut off the leak. “Has the gas flow increased? I can’t tell. There must be a main shutoff, I think that’s it – it won’t budge, but maybe that’s not it anyways. It sounds like a fan, maybe there’s an exhaust fan. I hear a fan, maybe it’s not gas and it’s just a fa… the Dust Buster.”

That’s right. The Dust Buster hard turned itself on in the process of falling. The sound was not a pipe spewing deadly flammable gas after all, merely the motor of a machine that had been charging probably since we moved into this place. I didn’t even realize it had any juice in it. When I turned off the Dust Buster my heart began to pound. I had just finished watching The Chair gameshow for the first time. The object is to keep your heartrate below a certain level while answering a question. If the heartrate goes too high, you lose x amount of dollars per second until it comes back down. When watching it, we noticed that some people had very low heartrates during the question asking, and much higher ones immediately after getting a question correct.

I think I had my own “Chair” experience this evening, one that I care not repeat anytime soon. The term “life flashed before my eyes” couldn’t be any more true.