Monday, May 30, 2011

Light My Fire (The Non-Spork Version)

So I finally came to terms with the fact that I'm living in California semi-permanently and stopped subletting/crashing at friend's apartments... and I've (semi-permanently) settled in a little 1940's bungalow that's so California it hurts. It lives amidst a pack of other bungalows, and each bungalow has a tiny garden-- people compost... people grow vegetables... everyone uses the clothesline to dry their clothes. The rent is cheap and the owners "honestly don't believe there's any lead paint left." Dude, I cannot express to you how much I LOVE this place.

But the one worrisome aspect of my new apartment (is not that the kitchen is so small I can't open the fridge door all the way) is the slight odor of gas that came and went for the first three months of residency... the smell had no correlation to heat or stove or shower... no real centralized point of stink... I would just walk in from getting the mail and go "that's not quite right." I finally called my landlord after a friend confirmed her apartment was the same way-- it was probably the pilot light in my 1940's heating system. A heating system so ancient you have to turn it on with a little key inserted in the grate.

Super high-tech.

So two maintenance men showed up at my little apartment at an obscenely early hour and commenced to light my furnace. Biff looked at it first and exclaimed, "gosh, I hate this model... they must have had a special tool for lighting these things." Chuck looked at it next, "we can probably just throw something down there and it will catch." Biff looks at me "I've seen people do this one... you just turn the gas on and light a match and it goes pfhwhoom (large explosion gesture) and it's all good..." I gave him a look that said "I am tired and that is a terrible plan," and he and Chuck went back to the drawing board. Sadly, the drawing board led them back to the first plan-- turning the gas on and dropping lit things into my heater... Italian flash cards I'd (hopefully) memorized, popsicle sticks they found in the community garbage... coupons for the local grocery store, "one of these things is bound to catch," they said, as my apartment started to smell more and more like a forest fire. Finally, the pilot light caught (a combination of the slow burning popsicle stick and a quarter turn of the gas key). "We'll stick around til the popsicle stick burns out."

Thanks guys.

And there you have it, I have a working heating system just in time for summer.


Simon said...

This is thoroughly delightful. Reading it, anyway. Maybe not living through it. I want to see more pictures of your new place, especially the couch now that you're posting and I'm 100% sure you're not stuck under it.

P.S. Were Biff and Chuck really their names? I dearly hope so.

Simon said...

Also I like the title a lot.

Darryl Iorio said...

I laughed at how Biff described how to ignite the pilot light. Why don’t you try having a modern heater installed? There are definitely some models out there that are easier to turn on than the one you have. Some are electric-powered, completely eliminating the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you want to heat a room with just the push of a button, instead of lighting a match and watching your heater go “pfhwhoom”, then you should definitely get one. :)

Naoki Dieter said...
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