There’s a saying that you never truly know what you’ve got until it’s gone. In our microwave-centric world of quick fixes and immediate gratification, impatience is a virtue and convenience is gospel. It was in this fast-paced world of cheap and easy access that our office toaster shone like a beacon of hope, a faint echo of a slower, once-crisp past in the doughy and (le pain) quotidien existence. Last week our faithful toaster oven left this cruel, cruel world, not with a fizzling fade, but with a fiery bang.
In the aftermath of what has become known as “The Curious Incident of the Toaster in the Morning” (TCloTitM) here at The Wheelhouse Review offices, reactions have ranged from shock and outrage to outright suspicion. While TCIotTitM has officially been ruled an accident, there have been rumors of foul play given the heated debate about the office’s appliance policies. The incident has also raised questions about our team’s differing heating and cooking agendas, the individual use of skinny bread, and office policies on appliance fire controls. Some staff members have argued that it’s too soon to discuss these issues, that banning “sandwich thins” is a violation of our right to choose our preferred carbohydrates. Other staff members would rather be safe than sorry. And not surprisingly, some staff members of the pro-microwave camp, who routinely argued that having two heating and cooking devices was a waste of office funds, have been silent on this issue.
So readers, we’d like to report to you the story of “The Curious Incident of the Toaster in the Morning” and let you decide which version you think comes closest to the truth.
It was a beautiful Monday morning just like any other, except that on this occasion I was the first to arrive in the office. Tommy, our unfailingly disappointing intern had appeared to have left the office in shambles after what seemed to be a small-to-midsized rave the night before. As I picked up fading glowsticks and lollipop wrappers, I cursed the day I let Ryan convince me to hire him. “Just give him a chance” he said. “Sure, all his references said he was a loose cannon, but remember when you needed your first big break? he said. “Plus his dad offered to pay our rent for the duration of his internship. What’s the worst that could happen?” he said. Well, after last month’s after-hours foam party and the time he tried to do a keg stand with the water cooler, I had figured that was the worst that could happen. I was wrong.
As I set about making coffee and throwing empties from the night before in the recycle bin, I decided to make some breakfast in our office kitchen. Each morning I like to eat a sandwich thin with some hummus, arugula and avocado, a meal that TWR co-founder Faith McCormick had turned me onto. I put my flaxseed sandwich thin (BOGO at Safeway the week before!) on the toaster oven’s rack and left it to check my email.
After a few minutes of going through our many submissions, I remembered that I was toasting bread. Upon entering the kitchen, I was accosted by a cloud of smoke. The toaster was on fire! Yellow flames licked the toaster oven’s door and smoke started filling the small room. In moments of crisis like this one, you often wonder if you have what it takes to solve the problem or if, paralyzed by fear and anxiety, you’ll freeze in your tracks. I mean, haven’t we all had those dreams where something bad is happening and you can’t move or run away? Like from a knife-wielding clown? No?
Anyway, I had always secretly suspected that I’d fall into the “deer in the headlights” camp due to the paralysis that so easily sets in when faced with even the most minor of decisions. However, to my surprise, I found myself locating the fire extinguisher, pulling out the pin, and shooting away at the fire. And ok, maybe the wall and countertop too (it never hurts to double check). After the fire was out, I unplugged the toaster and immediately called my mommy. No one in the office was hurt, because to my knowledge no one else was there. Or so it seemed.
Minutes later, in rushed Tommy, still wearing his Jnco jeans from last night’s rave (Sidenote: Tommy, those jeans have been out of style since Mitt Romney retroactively retired from Bain) and smelling suspiciously of lighter fluid. A minute later Ryan appeared in the doorway, smelling suspiciously like Axe body spray and saying “I can be a good little firetruck! Let me put out the fire!” And within seconds, Faith popped in to see what was going on, smelling like White Diamonds, which was the most suspicious part of it all. I found out later that the entire staff had actually gotten in before me, but it seemed no one wanted to clean up the post- rave mess. Fair enough–it was pretty gross. Tommy! I’d fire him, but what price free rent, you know?
When the smoke and fire extinguisher residue cleared, I pulled the charred remains of my sandwich thin from the toaster. Assuming that the bread had fallen onto the coils and caught fire, I profusely apologized and set to work cleaning the mess. But I couldn’t shake the sense of foul play. Not only did the toaster smell faintly of lighter fluid, I could clearly remember carefully placing the bread on the rack.
I tried to clean the toaster as best I could, but fearing another fire, couldn’t bring myself to plug it back in. When Sarah Davis exhibited her signature brand of courage and attempted to toast a scone, white smoke began pouring out of the top of the toaster, as though to signal the start of a new order. Alison quickly pointed out that the microwave was a better appliance for heating, which was promptly seconded by the Elizabeth Taylor-loving Faith McCormick. Those innocuous comments would have been dismissed handily on any other day. But maybe the smoke triggered my memories of Angels and Demons and sent Dan Brown-esque conspiracy theories flying through my head like Furies.
What really happened in the kitchen that day? Was it merely a rogue sandwich thin, falling through the cracks and catching fire, like a metaphor for the consequences of our societal apathy? Or was there a more nefarious plot afoot concocted by a pro-microwave faction in The Wheelhouse Review offices? And was it connected to the alleged rave of the night before? Were my fellow staff members throwing parties without me?
The world may never know the answers to these questions. In the meantime, rest your head and sleep with the angels, Brave Little One. You were too good for this world.