Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All is Well

Here's the whole story, and I'm stickin' by it:

I wake up this morning to one of my favorite kinds of days...a little bit of sun, the beginnings of Fall crispness in the air, and eight or so hours stretching out in front of me with nothing I really "have" to do. Life is good, I tell myself. All is well.

Then I make the mistake of opening the door to my garage. BAM! I am all but knocked out by the powerful smell of fumes strong enough to light every barbecue in town (and several Olympic torches) simultaneously. I jump back with the agility of a mountain cat and close the door to avoid spontaneous combustion. Whew! I am safe for the moment, though my clothes smell like a chemical spill, and I haven't even entered the stinkin' (quite literally) room.

Never one to panic (?), I talk myself through the non-panic I am feeling. Okay. Something's wrong here. (Good eye!...Scratch that...Good nose!) Here's the deal. You need to figure out what this odor is and fix it. (Okay, now we've got a mission statement.) Has something spilled? Exploded? (Impressive analytical skills coming into play now...Sue is on the scent, so to speak.) Suddenly my thoughts turn to my dear husband. Ahhhhh, I think with a sagacity born of experience. Maybe "Dave" has happened to the garage. I'll have to call him and see.

Affixing a smile to my face, I stroll over to the phone (Okay, I run...) and dial his Blackberry. No answer. Of course. He's unavailable. Nowhere to be found. Vanished into thin air (which seems infinitely preferable to the thick-with-toxins air I'm breathing, by the way.) Where's the justice? Undeterred, I try the office number. On comes the recording. Waiting patiently till the end (actually I am wringing my hands by now), I leave what I hope is a semi-sane message. "Dave," I gasp (it's hard to hold your breath when you're talking on the phone), "call me right when you get this." Click.

I brace myself. Looks like I'm gonna have to handle this one on my own. With new determination and no small amount of courage, I walk back through the service porch and stare at the door, thoughts of backdraft running through my head. Backdraft is a fire thing, I remind myself, and this isn't a fire...yet. On that note, and sucking in one last, deep breath of fresh air, I open the door. Ventilation first, I think cleverly, as I push the button that opens the garage door. A few squeaks and groans bring the neighborhood into full view. (I am now officially a polluter, but survival doesn't come cheap.) Undaunted, I move past the heater to the back door. Cross ventilation, I remind myself and fling the door wide, remembering to prop it open with the closest thing handy. Check. Cross ventilation achieved. Next move (my mind is channelling Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot simultaneously at this point) is to detect......THE SOURCE. But all in good time. The smell is beginning to get to me and holding my breath isn't working out real well either, so I abandon all sense of social, civic, or family responsibility and rush back into the house. Asphyxiation postponed, I mutter victoriously (well, as victorious as muttering ever gets, anyway).

I'll give the fumes 15 minutes to air out a bit and then go back in, I promise no one in particular, coolly observing that I have somehow brought the odor back with me into the fresh air sanctuary that is (was) my home. Is chemical disaster seeping under the door?...or are the fumes just so potent they've somehow migrated to my clothing? Either way, it isn't pretty. Pungent, yes. Pretty, no.

I'm debating whether to jump in the shower...cold water only, to avoid opening my pores and letting the toxins in...when the phone rings. It's Dave. In a burst of relief because I sense that I am suddenly much closer to an explanation of the chemical dump that is now my garage, I ask (carefully, so as not to scare him off): "Were you...doing anything...in the garage this morning? There's a really terrible smell in there...like someone poured a bucket of turpentine all over the floor or something. It's reeeaaalllly bad." I cease my inquiry now, eager for his answer as I envision myself not having to navigate the whole garage in my search for THE SOURCE. Silence. More silence. Then his voice..."Really? Hmm. I don't think so....(disinterested pause)...(Better hit this one a little harder, I tell myself.) "IT'S BAD, Dave," I say. "AWFUL. Are you sure you didn't do something out there?" Another pause. (Do I hear him rifling through papers? Is he reading something in my hour of need?!) He speaks just in time to save himself. "Well....now that you mention it, maybe yesterday....when I was getting a brush out of there...maybe I might have spilled a little something. Why don't you go out there, and I'll tell you where to look?" 

I knew it. I KNEW it. Dave is involved (even culpable), but I'm not going to gloat. I'm not going to seethe, either. I am just going to fix the problem. With portable phone in hand, I am directed to a shelf where cans of paint and turpentine are organized into orderly boxes, one of which is sopping wet and steadily dripping into a small swimming (okay, wading) pool on the floor. Voila! Someone DID pour (all right, spill) turpentine all over the garage...or close enough, anyway. And I guess that someone didn't really see a pressing need to clean it up. Unbelievable! The smell is quite seriously overpowering. "Didn't you smell this when you left this morning?" I can't help but ask. "No," the love of my life answers offhandedly.  I then tell my better (clumsier) (more careless) (and waaaaay less olfactory) half that I need to hang up the phone so I can hold my breath and see what I can do to get the stuff out of there. "It's all over my hands already," I whine...(yes, I admit it; I whined. So what? I could have screamed like a banshee, but I chose to go with the whine). "I'm never going to get it off," I continue. (Perhaps my voice has the tiniest bit of an edge to it now.) "I'm going to be smelling this stuff all day."

Speaking in his special calm voice that he reserves for lunatics, wild dogs and me when I can't stand the smell of something in my house, he says, "Wait a minute," and then asks this last worthy question: "Do you want to wash your hands in mineral oil?" I think he means well, so I bite my tongue, decline politely, and hang up.

An hour, a shower, and Sue's best hazmat power later, I am left with a dull headache...a garage that is now bearable (barely)...and a laundry load of smelly towels/clothes. I assume that Tide will take care of the clothes and Time will take care of what I now fondly call the "spill zone." (I have to assume that the smell will fade gradually as the wood dries out, though this may take days in the closed-in space where the "spill" occurred.)

In true pioneer tradition, however (though admittedly I can claim relation to no pioneers at all), I have weathered the storm, braved the elements, cleaned up the caustic chemicals...Okay, scratch that last one (which was probably not a recurring problem on the wagon train), but I do have a blister on my knuckle.

All is well. It really is. (Or at least it will be when I get me some o' Dr. Dave's mineral oil...) 

Hope that sucker (pardon me...magical elixir) is odor-free. Spill-free, too. I'm just sayin'... 

;)

5 comments:

Laura said...

Oh wow! He owes you!

Heather Anderson said...

that is a story

Sue said...

Seriously, I cannot even describe how bad the garage smelled. It burned your throat and eyes just to be in there for 10 seconds. (It's much better today, but you still wouldn't want to hang out in there.)

Tired Mom said...

Wow... sounds like something my husband would do! LOL!! So glad it wasn't something truly dangerous and just extremely stinky and annoying. Thanks for sharing =) Over from Blog Gems (and fellow LDS member).

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Oh this is more than a bit familiar, though I couldn't have written so well about it ! And it was ME that did the spilling. By accident, when I poured some paintbrush cleaner into an unsuitable plastic container - it burned through and spilled all over the garage floor...

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