So here I am, running down the street wearing a hard hat, safety goggles and a fluorescent lime green vest, trying to catch a six-month-old puppy that is part-Boxer, part-Terrier and part-Ferrari.
“Hannah! Here, girl!”
Then, a brainstorm, and I run back inside the fenced yard from where this canine came — and darned if the pooch doesn’t zoom right along through the gate with me, safe, sound and back to its owner. All part of my in-the-field education with the natural gas service technicians and fitters who were nice enough to let a rookie tag along.
As I observe the real pros, my hope is that the official gear of hard hat, goggles and funky lime vest will give me a “That dude knows what he’s doing …” vibe. But I doubt it. Some people wear a hard hat naturally, others come off as a paper-pusher who wandered over from the corporate office. Guess which category I fall into?
My day with the natural gas gang was spent with Robert, Jason and Clipper, who are a service technician, a trainee and a fitter, respectively. And nice guys, genuinely.
Things started with Robert and me checking out a potential natural gas leak. Armed with a mega-sensitive sniffer gizmo, we inspected a suspicious fireplace in Issaquah, but found no trace of leaking natural gas. Still, we write up a report, and urge the homeowner to call immediately if they smell an odor again. Robert’s been at this a while, and coincidentally came and checked my own furnace 10 years ago when it was the suspected leaker. He has a knack for making you feel good about feeling nervous. “Call PSE again, anytime,” he says, and you know he means it.
Clipper, a veteran natural gas “fitter”, was the Zen Master when it came to prying open the shutoff valve for a swimming pool boiler in Renton. Covered in so much rust it looked like a stalactite, the valve never stood a chance against Clipper and a set of longer-than-your-arm wrenches. A little muscle, a lot of experience and liberal squirts of WD-40 soon bring a grateful homeowner that much closer to swimming in heated comfort. Clipper (actual first name: unknown) was only disappointed we didn’t get to do anything more fun, with his definition of “fun” including a jackhammer.
And about that dog, Hannah. As we were carrying the gigantic wrenches back to the truck, the crafty mutt zipped through the open gate. No doubt impressed by my hound-catching skills, Clipper could only marvel as I led the pup back.
Got a lost dog? Call me. Smell natural gas? Dial 1-800-CALL-PSE. Whoever comes out — Robert, Jason, Clipper or any of the gang — will get you squared away, safe and sound. Amazingly, they can probably get the job done without me — unless the dog escapes.
Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. He looks forward to hearing from you at AskAndy@PSE.com.