Allow me to share a story with you. Back when I was 14, my family lost power for two weeks. Losing power was not all that uncommon in rural Virginia, but a full two weeks was quite a lengthy amount of time. Added to that, the power outage was rather untimely, spanning across both Christmas and New Year’s. On the positive side, this brought a lot of family bonding, as we spent days playing board games by candlelight. One afternoon, I was playing some board game (I don’t remember which one, but it involved dice) with my brother, aunt, and two of my first cousins. When it was my brother’s turn, he rolled the dice and inadvertently caught the sleeve of his sweatshirt on fire.
The rest of my family tried to help in whatever capacity they could. I, however, straight up panicked. I just started yelling “Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!” over and over again. It was not my finest moment.
I tell you this story not to say that I’m bad to have in a crisis situation. Because I am actually quite useful in these. This same family–myself included–had fought off an armed robber with cool heads (true story). I’m actually quite handy to have around if, say, you’re pregnant, or stuck in some other type of emergency (cf. armed robbery incident above). However, I don’t do well with fires. Like the Monster in Frankenstein, I understand that flame can bring comfort and warmth, but can also destroy and kill. I may also be the first female ever to compare herself favorably to the monster in Frankenstein.
So on that fateful day in question, when I saw the break room lit up like the 4th of July in San Diego, I immediately high-tailed it out of the office. Flames and blondes don’t mix, and I figured I was more help working from my favorite cafe down the street than in the office (after a couple of years of working from home, my intra-office skills are awkward at best, super uncomfortable at worst). While the rest of the office may use telecommuting as an excuse to get out of work, awesome posts about Simpsons Trivia and book club meetings don’t write themselves.
After a couple of hours, I finished my assignments. BOOM. While writing, I saw Alison, Faith, and our plucky young intern Tommy heading in the direction of the greenmarket and figured it was safe to return to Wheelhouse HQ to submit my work, maybe to have a little lunch, and then distract the others from their work for the rest of the afternoon/watch cat videos on the internet.
When I got back to my cubicle, I had a plate of scones waiting for me, with a note that read:
Knowing that you were intrigued by what the Olympics were doing to London, I thought you would enjoy these scones, a British favourite! Pip-pip cheerio, Tommy.
Well how sweet is that? Tommy and I have always gotten along amicably, bonding over our obsession of zombielore and the proper use of good v. well. But I never expected scones! I headed to the kitchen at once to heat one up and smother it in blueberry jelly, my jam of choice.
Unknown to me, however, was exactly what went down earlier that day. I certainly knew something was ablaze in the break room, but because of my prompt and immediate removal from the premises (almost George Costanza like, though I didn’t shove my way past any small children or old people), I didn’t know that the toaster was the victim of the fire. That was, until smoke started pouring out of the toaster, tendrils curling around like snakes, and rendering my now-smoked scone utterly inedible.
I froze. I could hear the screaming 14 year old Sarah in the back of my mind. Would this be a repeat of the fire that slightly singed my brother’s favorite sweatshirt 15 years ago? Or would I rise to the occasion?
Tune in next week to find out.
What? We’re finishing up this story this week? Oh, right!
At the moment when I would normally start to scream and head towards the nearest door or window for an escape, I noticed the previously used fire extinguisher located just to my right. I picked it up, and doused that toaster for the second time in a day. I did it! I faced my fiery fears!
Unfortunately, after its second bath, the toaster was kaput. And while I didn’t cause the initial morning fire, or the one that seems to have been prompted by my scone (really), I still feel the rest of the Wheelhouse Review team holds me responsible. Especially since they’re footing me with the replacement bill. But this is absurd. The toaster wasn’t that old, and given that I’m fire-conscious, I kept the machine clean and crumb free (safety first!). No, I smell a rat. And given I don’t have a good sense of smell, this probably means there is one.
So I posit to you, reader: what really happened that day? Why were Alison, Faith and Tommy so keen to leave the office for the greenmarket? Tommy hates vegetables, and it would usually be too far of a hike for Faith in her tall (and fabulous) heels. It’s also a bit odd that Tommy bought me scones before his excursion. And where was Ryan this whole time? That man is usually harder to shake than tuberculosis (consumption zing!), yet during the Scone Incident he was nowhere to be found, leaving an office smelling strongly enough of Axe and lighter fluid for even my weak nose to pick up. And why was Stephanie in the office? Doesn’t she live in Nebraska or someplace like that? How interesting that the minute she steps into the office, our tranquil little world goes to hell. I would not even put our fearless leader above reproach. I seem to remember Juliet filing a suspiciously large insurance claim on the toaster. I mean who insures a toaster?
So there you go, Wheelhouse Review office. Like a modern day Émile Zola, J’Accuse!.
The loss of the toaster represents more than just the loss of an efficient way to make toast. It was also the last symbol of our office’s innocence. From now on, we write with just a little more suspicion, caution, and fear.
And without a toaster.