too many words by laura lemay

Out of Gas

Because we live in the outer borderlands, we use propane gas for making things warm in the house: heat, hot water, the clothes dryer, and the stove. The propane is stored in this astonishingly ugly tank just outside the kitchen door. It’s essentially the big house-sized version of those little tanks you use for BBQ grills.

We’ve had the same propane provider for the entire 20 years we’ve lived here. And it has been all good. We run low, they send a truck, and sometimes they send a truck even before we know we’re low. Except for that one time the truck ran into my car in the driveway and bashed in a tail light, all has been fine. (To be fair, it was a really small car.)

Until now. There have been rumblings on our local neighborhood email lists that people in the area were having trouble getting propane deliveries from this company. Some people were running out of propane entirely for weeks before they managed to get a delivery. The rumor was that the local company had lost a bunch of drivers at once and could not keep up with demand. Nervously, I checked the tank, and it was below 5%. We needed a delivery. This whole week I’ve been calling the propane company, and every day they’ve been saying that they’ll send a truck, definitely today, this time for sure. The truck never shows up.

Today, we’re flatline.

We’re not totally 100% out of gas, but we’ve turned off the heat and we’re trying to conserve the hot water. I have a little electric space heater parked next to me at my desk. And sweaters. Lots and lots of sweaters.

It is surprising how on edge this makes me. I keep listening for a truck that never comes, distracted by the slightest noise and hoping, hoping, hoping, maybe that rumbling noise is the gas truck. I am cold and unhappy and I would like to be able to do take a shower and do laundry.

Eric finally got through to a human on the emergency line this morning and they said the truck would be here this afternoon. I’ve heard that before. We’ll see.