Warning: Cheesey smoke idioms may follow. And that’s no smoke!
This smoke-filled event occurred several years ago when I was teaching and my daughter was going through university. We shared a great apartment in an optimum location. I was a block and a half from my work place, walking distance to shopping and services as well as a close proximity to our many friends. We were in a two apartment house. The family living upstairs were very good neighbors. Sounding ideal, right? Even in ideal situations, stuff happens. When the uber of ‘stuff happens’ happened, our relationship with the neighbors nearly went up in smoke.
One early Spring day. I was at work and my daughter had gone off to one of her classes. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on at school. A day like most days. Although we did have our share of the extraordinary. Working with special needs kids you learn to expect the unexpected. Something unexpected did occur, but not regarding the students. The office paged me to go to the phone. There was an urgent call from my daughter. “Holy smoke,” I thought, “ why would she call me at school?” My anxiety amped up as I imagined worst case scenarios.
J had gotten home early from university. When she walked inside she smelled smoke coming from the upstairs apartment. She went to check on the neighbors. No one was home. During our years on a farm we had 3 wood burning stoves. J said the smokey smell from upstairs was reminiscent of burning wood. She was uncertain about calling the fire department. Did I think Smokey the Bear would be a less intimidating option? Seriously? I told her to go ahead and phone the fire department. It was better to be safe than sorry. It turned out that she was both safe and sorry.
The fire department arrived. They needed to investigate to make sure there was no fire erupting anywhere. Since the neighbors were out, they had to break down their door. Of course, the neighbors returned home just as their main door was being axed. The smoke that was billowing through the air was coming out of the eyes, ears and noses of the fuming neighbors. Turns out the smokey aroma had come from special holiday incense they had burned. They were so angry they brought fire and brimstone down on my daughter. Meanwhile, the awesome firemen tried to reassure J and said phoning them was the right thing to do. The neighbors didn’t speak to us for several days.
There are 2 morals to this story:
One: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Two: Always read labels, especially the fine print. If buying incense, check to see if the label says, Enjoy the Nostalgic Aroma of an Old Fashioned Wood Stove, you may want to consider other options.
Comments are welcomed.