Idle Thoughts

Gas Across the Alley

Diagonally across the back alley .....

Diagonally across the back alley is a rather box-like single-storey house set in a neglected plot which last year was used by the Farmers’ Market Co-operative as a communal vegetable and produce garden. Then it was lived in by a young couple, she being a member of that co-operative. It seems that when her children first began to play in the basement she became concerned about the smell of gas and called a technician. Despite a full check and firm assurances that the system was fine, that there were no gas leaks and that there was nothing to worry about, she insisted that the system be entirely replaced. At great expense the work was arranged, and in the garden behind the house there is now a gleaming structure comprising pipes, meters and switches that control the gas flow within the property.

The smell remained and complaint was made to the City Council. Inspections, sniffings and explorations of the main supply running the length of the alley all revealed nothing amiss, but the smell persisted. Further complaint was made. There is now a bright new control box at the end of the alley and a string of small metal flags from Lewis to Clark that show where the new gas main was laid by the City authorities and the gas company.

I first smelt the odd, mildly sulphurous odour within a week of my arrival in 2010, and wondered then about gas, drains or even pollution, but it came and went with no apparent ill-effect. It still does, but at least I realized its source last year. My neighbour directly across the alley also knows the source, and conspiratorially told me with a chuckle how adept the manager of the industrial laundry next door was at turning off his exhaust fans whenever he got wind of a council or gas utility visit.

The children’s health is safe, sadly divorce intervened to separate them from the basement. It is not yet clear whether the Farmer’s Market Co-operative will be growing vegetables this year.
Idle Thoughts > Gas Across the Alley