Last night, I got home and smelled gas on our floor in my apartment building. I thought it was bad enough that I planned to drop off my stuff and head downstairs to alert our doorman. I walked in and my partner looked at me and said, "I know—I smell it, too!" Turns out he'd complained already, only to have the doorman say there was no one around to check it, it must not be too bad because we were the only ones complaining and someone probably just, you know, left their stove on. I went down and said that wasn't good enough—start calling.
I wound up calling 311 (New York's service number that in theory leads you where you need to go). The reason for this post is that I am still shocked at how effective this was. I called, got a live person within a minute, was told the smell of gas mandated a 911 call and was patched through to 911 (something I would have hesitated to do on my own) and was instantly patched through to the fire department. The firemen were on our floor in 10 minutes or less. We heard the siren right after hanging up.
They agreed on the smell and narrowed it down to one apartment, which was empty at that moment. Unfortch, they had to force the door open. Once inside, they killed the gas to the stove and reassured us we'd been right to call. Minutes later, Con Ed arrived and disagreed with the source—they focused on a neighboring unit. It turned out the woman inside had left her gas stove on and had fallen asleep (apparently, hours earlier). Either way, Con Ed agreed we'd done the right thing.
I'm posting this because I guess as is human nature, existential quandaries negative superficialities and savage if fair criticism tend to attract more attention on blogs, and this was a case where my cynicism was extinguised by the people who responded to this potential emergency. It's as reassuring to know that help can be so near under the right circumstances as it is unsettling to know that our doorman thinks someone leaving their gas on full blast while napping is something that can be attended to in the ayem...