Man backed for turning off gas so stepmom doesn’t burn down her house

A man is being backed for his decision to turn off the gas at his home while he and his wife leave town for two weeks, even though his stepmother still lives there.

The original poster (OP), u/throwaway18688, shared his story on the popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole, earning 4,500 upvotes and 700 comments for his post, “[Would I be the A**hole] if I turn off the gas before going on vacation?”

In the message, he explains that his mother-in-law lives with them, but calls her “irresponsible, lazy and petty”. He says that whenever he and his wife leave her alone while eating out, she will cook a meal for herself, but then leave the gas stove on.

He says every time they come back, the house stinks because the burner will be off, but the dial is on, letting gas out. He and his wife suspect she does it to “punish” them for leaving her home alone, but they cannot prove it.

However, the two are going on an out-of-town trip for two weeks, and the PO plans to cut the gas.

“I’m afraid we’re going back to an ash heap or a corpse from gas inhalation,” he wrote, asking if turning off the gas would be the wrong thing to do.

In the comments, he says his wife thinks it’s a passive-aggressive move, but she won’t let him “face the situation head on” either.

A man is backed for his plan to shut off the gas when he and his wife go away for two weeks because her stepmother left their gas stove on when they leave her alone.
Filippo Carlot/Getty

While OP and his wife believe his mother-in-law does this intentionally – especially since she seems to turn off the burner to put out the flames, then turn the burner back on without letting it ignite – this kind of behavior could also be considered a sign of dementia.

Dementia occurs when a person loses cognitive function, not just when it comes to memory, but also when it comes to reasoning or understanding things, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). This can sometimes include a lack of control over emotions and even a change in personality. According to the NIA, about a third of people over the age of 85 have some form of dementia.

Symptoms of dementia, according to the NIA, include memory loss and poor judgment; difficulty speaking or understanding; getting lost even in familiar spaces; act impulsively; not caring about other people’s feelings; delusions, hallucinations or paranoia; and disinterest in everyday events. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, there are also other types of dementia, including frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia.

Of course, in this case, it may not be dementia, but simply a person with all his faculties deciding to be a fool – in a very dangerous way. Left unattended, a gas oven can easily poison people or even cause a large explosion. By leaving the gas on, the OP’s mother-in-law is playing with fire, both figuratively and literally.

Reddit backed the man for turning off the gas, though some suggested it could be a case of armed incompetence.

“[Not the A**hole], his behavior is a clear danger to the well-being of all. That said, this is definitely escalating behavior and I would recommend finding a way to resolve the conflict that is less passive-aggressive, as it could exacerbate things down the line,” u/Don_Ciccio wrote in the top rated comment with over 7,400 upvotes.

“I kinda feel like [Mother-in-Law] needs a doctor’s appointment. Either she’s fine despite poisoning herself, or she doesn’t smell gas and recognizes that it’s a warning sign. Both situations require a caregiver of some sort for part of the time if she is alone on weekends,” u/Glittering_knave wrote.

“[Mother-in-Law] should be placed in a care center. Whether she does it on purpose or not, the fact remains that her actions put herself and everyone around her at risk,” u/Publius246 wrote, though the OP replied that neither he nor she had the money to provide a house for his mother – in law.

“You are not responsible for keeping someone who might murder you and your wife one spark and you are dead,” u/ZippNex wrote. “I understand that your wife obviously cares about her, but your mother-in-law is putting all three of you at risk and there’s no compromise there.”

“Gas leaks are not just a danger to you. They are a danger to everyone in the area,” u/fishminer3 wrote.

“It sounds like a shout for attention. Like, ‘I don’t cook anymore, so you have no choice but to take me to dinner with you.’ I wouldn’t be worried about leaving the gas on , because it probably will. only do it when you’re about to come back, but I understand it would be less stressful to turn it off,” u/Pure-Perspective-70 wrote.

“That shit. It’s learned incompetence to get you to take it with you,” u/Snoo_68114 agreed.

Newsweek contacted u/throwaway18688 for comment.

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