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I called 911 after an apartment gas leak.

1Last week in the apartment, I was on the second floor enjoying my epic music while getting some work done. Suddenly, my colleagues ran up the stairs and pulled the earbuds out of my ears. “You better have a good reason for disrupting my zen mode,” I thought.

“Gas leak, get out now,” he said.

“Okay, must pack my shit,” I thought.

“Dude, leave your stuff, we have to go now,” he said with a sense of urgency,

“Dude, I have to bring my laptop. And the charger, must not forget the charger. I don’t want to re-buy any of this expensive Apple shit,” I thought further.

So packed my stuff, I did, and down the stairs I went. I smelled the intense gas as soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs. One whiff was enough for me to hold my breath, bolt out the penthouse, and run down the apartment complex flight of stairs.

I then called 911. Asked for the fire department. “Gas leak is bad,” I said.

“On our way,” they replied.

Two firetrucks came five minutes later, and I led them up the apartment complex stairs. I wondered if the upcoming explosion would disintegrate my body painlessly, but the firefighters acted calm. Were they naive, or experienced? I opted to think that they resembled the latter and led the charge.

We left the door unlocked, so in they went into the apartment. “Hello?” I heard the faint voice of a woman on the second floor, wondering who the hell would dare steal our shit in that five minute timespan, in spite of a pending gas explosion.

“Ma’am, this is the fire department. You need to get out now.”

I had to take a look at the potential perpetrator or thief. Oh, never mind, it was just the cleaning ladies scheduled to come in on Thursday noons. Great timing…

Because the cleaning ladies had begun cleaning the apartment, detergent was all we could smell. Gas-detection instruments yielded nil, and the firefighters began questioning our noses. No way, we all smelled gas, something wasn’t right. Yet, none of their instruments picked up the faintest smell of gas. Nothing with the stove, the fireplace, the second floor, absolute nil.

They left after 30 minutes of inconclusive evidence of a gas leak, and we were left wondering if our sanity was still intact. The smell was so distinct! I felt uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

The next day, we smelled it again. And we found the source.


The damn dishwasher. A spatula fell down the cracks while the dishwasher was running, straight into the heating coils. The coil began melting the spatula, emitting the smell of burning plastic that we all mistook for gas. The spatula couldn’t be seen until we had emptied out the dishwasher.

The takeaway: the dishwater user experience (UX) can be greatly improved by redesigning the cracks (the user interface) to accommodate all sorts of cooking objects. The cooking appliance industry can learn from wannabe software-as-a-service experts (us) to make all applications idiot-proof so that idiots (us) cannot be given the opportunity to melt plastic and call in two fire trucks.

Tax dollars well spent for this lesson.


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