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Protected by an Angelic Inspector

An unexpected visit from a gas company employee leaves a homeowner feeling blessed.

The controls of an old basement furnace

It was early summer. The woman who stood at my front door was attractive, tall, well-dressed and wore a uniform from the local gas company.

“I’m here to check your gas furnace,” she said with a smile. “But I didn’t call for repairs,” I said. I had heard stories of scam artists who wormed their way into homes and got residents to pay for unnecessary repairs.

“I don’t do repair work,” she clarified. “I’m here to make sure your furnace is safe for the winter. No charge.”

No charge? “Okay… but I’m not paying for anything I don’t need.”

We went downstairs to the furnace. She removed the front cover. “This furnace is filthy,” she said. “It must be at least 30 years old. When did you last get it cleaned?”

Oh, so here was the sales pitch. “I suppose you’d want the job?” I asked.

“Any furnace company can do it,” she said. “Make sure to get it cleaned before you turn it on. Don’t forget.”

In October, the weather cooled and I called a heating and air conditioning company. A man spent hours scrubbing off grime. Then he lit a smoke bomb to check for leaks. White clouds billowed from every vent in the house.

The furnace man looked aghast. “Don’t turn this furnace on,” he said. “If you do, you won’t wake up in the morning.”

I got a new furnace installed the next day. Thank God that woman from the gas company came around the neighborhood.

Except she didn’t. None of my neighbors received an inspection. The gas company hadn’t sent anybody before or since.


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