In a real, fundamental way, I’ve actually been, dare I say, excited of late. That’s because, for the past two months or so, people from utility entities have been doing work on my street.
It started on June 9 with a tag on our door that National Grid was going to install a new gas line on our property, and to install an external meter. We let Matt into the side door of our house. It was a way to let him do his job while being socially distant from us. In fact, he may have been the first person I allowed into our house in nearly three months. It felt… foreign.
Within the week, workers were digging a large hole across our sidewalk and onto a bit of the lawn, with a smaller hole by the house. Then other folks filled the holes, initially with small rocks, pressed down by a machine sounding like a jackhammer. The strips in the sidewalk were tarred over.
What’s that smell?
A few days later, I vaguely smelled what I thought was gas. But it wasn’t coming from the area of our oven in the kitchen. Instead, I sensed it as I walked down the stairs from the second to the first floor. We called National Grid.
The guy who came over was Will. As it turned out, he had heard of me because of a convoluted story. The bottom line is that his wife’s middle name is Green. Blame this on Will’s father-in-law, Broome.
In any case, Will discovered that the vent that sends the hot water heater’s contaminants out of the house through the chimney was detached by six inches. That’s huge. So we were experiencing a mild case of carbon monoxide poisoning. I suspect the jackhammer-like tool outdoors a couple of weeks earlier disconnected the vent. Note to self: install a CO monitor in the basement!
In other works
Subsequently, different workers have planted grass seed on our lawn, which has been growing back better than it was before. Two sidewalk panels were replaced entirely.
Workers trimmed excess branches from our power lines. We wish they had taken more of the lower branches, but I gather they weren’t National Grid’s responsibility.
Workers repaved part of our street. Not just patching holes but digging up and replacing. I had a nice, brief chat with one of the guys who helps control the traffic when one lane is closed off. I noted that everyone would notice if he and his partner at the end of the construction barrier were to screw up.
This talk happened right after I’d seen a story on the news about the value of conversation, even with a stranger, in releasing oxytocin. That connection with others may be the thing I miss the most in COVID world.