No, not that kind, silly. Propane gas. We almost ran out of it yesterday, though, and it was all my fault. Let me explain.
Propane in our apartment is needed to heat our water, cook our food, and wash and dry our clothes. While the other utilities, electricity and water, are automatic--as long as you pay the bills all you do is flip the switch or turn on the faucet--propane comes in tall cylinders that must be swapped out when empty.
There are numerous ways to accomplish this. Some people have a regular service that they call; others listen for the beeping horn of trucks filled with cylinders that slowly drive through neighborhoods peddling their wares. We depend on gas delivery from Santiago, the owner of a tienda a block behind us.
All the tanks for the tenants of our building are in a small laundry room in the basement. We have two (like the tanks you swap out for your grill, we bought them originally), using one until it's empty then switching over to the spare. There's no warning when that's necessary, and more than once the discovery has been made when one of us was in the shower. YIKES!! It's my job to remember to go downstairs and check after 10 days or so, depending on how much laundry Cynthia has been doing. The highly scientific method for performing this test is to lift the empty one, then pick up the other one to approximate how much gas is left.
It's also my responsibility to go to the tienda and pay $2.50 for a replacement as soon as the first one runs out, and here's where I messed up. Santiago has become a friend and I like to patronize local merchants as much as I can, but punctuality isn't his strong suit. Sometimes he brings the tank pronto but usually---not so much. That's why ordering a new one immediately gives him ample time to show up before we're totally out.
This time I meant to follow my usual routine but somehow got distracted and didn't get around to dropping by last week until we were a little too deep into the second tank. When time is of the essence I convey the urgency by mentioning Cynthia's name followed by pantomiming a knife being drawn across my throat while pointing at him with my other hand. Our communication is limited because of the language barrier but this he understands.
Since we were running so low I ordered two tanks and really wanted the transaction completed before we left for our weekend getaway. Bumping into him on the street Saturday afternoon I begged him to come before we left. He said it was impossible but promised to show up early Monday morning.
Well-----. At 11 on Monday I walked over to the tienda. We still had enough gas to heat water for tea but neither of us was willing to take a chance on showers. He was alone in the store and said as soon as his son showed up he would zip right over. 5 o'clock--no Santiago. Back to the tienda. I was told he was off to get the gas tanks and to please wait a half hour more.
At six the buzzer rang and there he was with the tanks as "promised." Showers were taken, dinner was cooked, and all is well in Casa Staton again.
Until next time------.