Life can be divided into two segments: the period in which you were not worried about your gas pipes, and the period in which you became quite worried about your gas pipes.

I literally mean gas pipes; this is not about getting your innards checked. The other day, a letter arrived from the utility company, and it said IMPORTANT INFORMATION. You certainly want to open that, in case it says something like, “We’ve decided to move our services to an app through which you order gas whenever you need it. Think of it as Uber, except for heat.”

There are people who would love that, because they could control their gas from their phone, which is the end point of all human endeavor. You could raise $25 million if you developed a cremation app that let people adjust heat and duration. But, won’t the user be dead? Yes, but after the next round of funding, we hope to build scheduling into the app.

Anyway, IMPORTANT INFORMATION also could mean something like, “Hey, we know you were expecting lots of gas this month, but Bob in invoicing screwed up and we’re, um, short. Like, we don’t have any. Sooooo, our bad, but we’re giving you a heads up so you can buy some sweaters. We will totally have gas next month, though.”

Enough speculation. Opened the letter. It began thus:

“Important information concerning your responsibility for your gas pipes.”

Hold on, what? They’re my pipes, now? And I’m obliged to control them?

“You are responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the gas pipes, connectors and valves.”

Is this new? Did Congress just pass the Gas Pipe Freedom Act of 2019, which gives me, the consumer, the power to choose who will maintain my pipes? I don’t want to sound like one of those cradle-to-grave socialists, but I’m not interested in personal pipe empowerment.

Satisfying as it was to have an immediate reaction that provided a moment of indignation, I read on. Turns out that my initial impression was wrong. I’ve always been responsible for my pipes, the company explained, and now they’re offering a plan through which they’ll fix them for me if I pay $3.99 a month.

What’s next? “We bring electricity to your house, but you’re responsible for a light bulb going out?” “We bring you water, but it’s up to you to jiggle the toilet handle when it runs?” “The Postal Service will bring your bills, but it’s up to you to pay them?” What insanity!

My umbrage had passed, but I couldn’t stop thinking about these gas pipes, which were mine now. I tossed and turned and punched my pillow and stared at the ceiling worrying about my pipes, which was weird because I was at work. Obviously I couldn’t fix gas pipes; the last time I tried a plumbing job, animals were going two-by-two up the ramp into an ark before I called a professional.

If I fixed the pipes myself, it would go like this:

Wife: “I smell gas.”

Dog: (looks innocent)

Me: “I’ll go fix the pipes, which are mine.”

International Space Station astronaut: “Houston, did someone just nuke Minneapolis?”

So I signed up, and while I have peace of mind, now I’m disgruntled because my pipes probably will never fail and that my cable provider doesn’t offer similar protection. I’d gladly pay $3.99 more a month to ensure that the show I liked did not get canceled without a resolution.

But in this cruel modern world, we’re on our own.