Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"It can't get any worse."

I know last time I said you'd never believe it. But I'm not kidding this time. Just when I thought that there was no way that the oven situation could get any worse, it went to a whole new horrific level.

Do you want the good news or the scary, terrible news first? It's either the Halloween season or you all have been reading too much Lemony Snicket, because I sense you want the bad first. Tough luck. First, the good. The oven is operational at long last. Why am I not doing the Dance of Jubilation, you may ask? Well, settle in with your cozy pumpkin latte and let me tell you what I hope is the final, but nearly-tragic chapter in this seemingly endless tale. ("She's going to tell, she's going to tell...." Reference, anyone?)

So I get up at the crack this morning (which for me, is 8:00am...tee hee) to be ready to meet the gas man who is scheduled to come repair the broken gas line. By 9:00am, I was beginning to get nervous, as I had seen hide nor hair of him. So I called the company, and they said he was on his way. Indeed, he showed up around 9:30, I'd say, which gave me the opportunity to get a lovely pork roast with garlic, onions and homemade applesauce in the crock pot (you may say that this showed a distinct lack of faith in the oven being repaired, and as Billy Joel put it so eloquently, you may be right). Now it should be said, the repair man who we'll call Jeff--because that is his name--is very nice. In fact, as he worked, we had a long and productive chat about the lack of good customer service in his field and the resulting deterioration of customer loyalty. And as he is to be promoted to manager in the next couple of months, he will soon be in a position to make substantive changes to a company that has, well, kinda sucked in the service department, to say the least. Also to his credit--and this must be underscored as a pivotal plot point in my story--he was very careful to check both the stove's burners and the oven temperature before he left. In fact, he even finessed the burners so that I could get the lowest of possible simmers without losing the flame. What a guy!

However, right after he left, I thought to myself, it can't be that easy. Given my track record over the past two months, I just had the sense that something was going to go wrong. And before the repair guy got too far out of range to be paged back, I was going to check the oven one more time. I turned the dial up to 350 degrees, and I was going to see if it came up to temperature while I got dressed for work. I didn't even make it around the corner to my bedroom before I heard a loud BOOM! I came running back into the kitchen and turned the oven off again, but not before huge flames started shooting out from behind the oven and up the walls to the cabinets above. I started to panic and grabbed a watering can and poured some water on the flame (DUH! ineffectual on the gas fire). So I grabbed the fire extinguisher from underneath the kitchen sink. It was still in the box after seven years, so I ripped off the cardboard, but as the flames grew higher, I didn't even have time to read the directions. I just started clawing at the apparatus until everything that could come off of it did, and then I started to spray until the fire was out, which didn't take long. Then I called 911, and told them that I thought I had the fire out, but that someone should maybe come and check it out. Finally, I called the gas company and had the repair man paged back to the scene of the crime. Within minutes, there was a fire engine or two, a water tanker, an ambulance, men in full fire suits, about four volunteer trucks, and even the fire chief who left his day job at the hospital to rush to the big "house fire." Then shortly after that, poor Jeff arrived back at the house to face what looked like the entire Chazy VFD.

Long story short (WAY too late!), with the use of a thermal camera, they determined that the fire was indeed completely out. And there was amazingly little damage--just a little scorching of the drywall behind the stove. The range itself was, remarkably, unharmed, other than a thick coating of baking soda covering it (did you know that that was what comes out of a fire extinguisher for the most part?). The fire chief signed off on the situation as long as Jeff agreed to switched out the faulty connection to the stove (apparently, the appliance store installed the new stove using the old connector) and also the power cord, just to be on the safe side, in case the chemical retardant should compromise it. So when I left for work, Jeff was making the required repairs, and my trusty next-door neighbor was supervising so that I could get off to class (a half hour late!). But before I ran out the door, I asked Jeff if I had not have checked the stove again, what would have happened? My first concern was my animals, and I asked if the fumes would have killed them. He said no, that the vapors aren't lethal. But that amount of gas build-up would be so highly explosive, that even someone coming home and flicking on a light switch would have been enough to blow up the whole house. I can't even dwell on that point! All I can say is, THANK GOD that I decided to turn that knob one more time for good measure.

Obviously, this is a pointlessly rhetorical question to ask, but CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS RIDICULOUS NIGHTMARE OF A STORY??? I know you can't. I know you think I've made it all up. But I have witnesses...namely, the entire hamlet of Sciota (all 18 houses' worth of folk) who came out to watch the goings-on this morning, much to my humiliation. And the punch line is this: the stove finally works and I could finally bake again, but I am scared to death to turn the thing on! So even as I type, I have a pot boiling on the nine-dollar Wal-Mart hot plate to make spaetzel (spatzen, to be precisely plural) to go with the yummy pork roast. Yes, yes, I will screw my courage to the sticking place sooner or later (especially as we are hosting a Halloween party this coming weekend), but during daylight hours when I won't have to wake up the volunteer firemen! ;-)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Omygosh! I'll bet you are SO glad this is finally over (crossing my fingers for you). I hope you never have to see or hear from the firemen again!

Anonymous said...

omg, this is just too unbelievable. You poor thing. Reminds me of the time I singed my hair at my friends house in MI, I was trying to light their very old stove( had to be manually lit). I ignited something that wasnt the pilot. To this day, I'm scared to death to go near their stove.

Heather said...

Shaking my head in disbelief and sympathy!!!

Anonymous said...

This has got to be the Cujo of ovens, I was so looking forward to more Farmer's Market stories, feedback on the perfect poundcake...OK oven, have you had enough attention now, could you possibly get back to b a k i n g?, you know, edibles, not the neighborhood!

kitchenmage said...

oh crap, i see kathleen has been buin you to get back to work already, so i have to be nice or you'll think that everyone from evenTinierTown is a snark... glad you're okay, but you know you need a new hobby...