..Jon Simonds..

I first heard the ad on WINS NEWS. You know, the radio station that says, "You Give Us 22 Minutes, We'll Give You the World." The ad was for Brooklyn Union Gas. It was a great ad. In it, some indivdual is describing how his oven went caput. "No problem," he tells us. "I just called Brooklyn Union Gas and they had a truck there in 25 minutes." The advertisement goes on to tell how quickly the man from the utility company diagnosed the problem. "Had the part right down in the truck," we are told. Fixed the oven and left; and I laugh every time I hear it. I just burst out into hysterics and everyone around me acts like I'm loking for a white jacket and a padded cell. You see, in the ad, the guy with the busted coil in his oven is obviously a homeowner. I, however, am not.

It just so happened that several weeks ago, I had the rare occasion to go home for lunch. When I arrived at my fourth floor apartment, I found my two-year-old American Eskimo dog terribly upset with my oven. She was barking and snarling at it as I took a couple of eggs out of the fridge and turned on the gas range. I kept explaining to her that I wasn't making steak, so she should just forget the oven, but that was out of the question, and after several minutes I heard the same fiery whoosh that had set her off like a fire box. I slowly opened the oven and peered inside. There was a jet stream of flame shooting up from the pilot light with such savagery, I thought there might be a gremlin with a flame thrower in there.

I didn't know quite what to do, so I dialed 911. I never had a problem with my oven before. The operator was kind enough to give me the emergency number for Brooklyn Union Gas. I called the company and, just like in the ad, they had a truck at my house in 25 minutes. It was wonderful. The guy rang the bell and I led him into the kitchen.

He opens the oven door and peers inside.
"Coil's burned up," he says.
"Is that a problem?" I asked.
"Naw," he says. "I got the part down in the truck."
"Great," I tell him.

He turns off the gas and makes his way back downstairs. Five minutes later, he's back in the kitchen with a little laptop computer and a box with a spanking new coil in it.
"What's the address here?" he asks.
I give him the address and watch him punch it into a miracle of modern technology. He wants me to spell my last name. I stand in admiration of how well things work in this country as I spell out my name and give him the apartment number. He stares into the little screen on top and suddenly appears confused.

"Let's try this again," he says, and we go through the same routine one more time.
"Do you own this apartment?" he asks.
"No," I tell him. "I rent it."
"Oh," he says, and starts to put the laptop away. "I can't fix it."
"Why not?"
"It's not your oven."
"What do you mean it's not my oven? It's my apartment."
"Yeah. But it's not your oven. It's the landlord's oven. I can't fix someone elses oven without their authorization."
"Well, why don't you fix my landlord's oven in my landlord's rented apartment and tack the cost onto my gas bill?"
"Can't do that."
"Why not?" I ask.
"Computer won't accept it."
"What a minute," I said. "How about if I pay you cash for the part, you fix it and we don't tell the computer?"
The gasman grinith.
"That would be dishonest," he says. "And besides, how would I account for the missing coil?"
"Okay," I concede. "So what am I supposed to do?"
"Call the super," he says, and fastens a tag around the oven. "He can get this coil in any hardware store and have it fixed in time for dinner. Then, after he's done that, you give us another call and we'll come put the gas back on."
The gasman cometh and the gas man goeth away.

I went down to see the super. I explained to him what had just happened and asked him if he could come up and fix the oven. He said he would, just as soon as he got the requisition order.
"What requisition order?" I asked.
"Da one dat comes from da office. You called the office, right?"
"I'll go upstairs and call them right now."

One week and three days later, after swearing I'll never eat in another fast food restaurant again, the super fixed my oven. I called Brooklyn Union Gas.
"No problem," the woman on the other end of the line began. "We'll have a truck over there in 25 minutes."
You Give Us 22 Minutes and We'll Give You the World.