A Place for Everything

Not long after UPS delivered a large cardboard box to our garage, I carried it upstairs to the kitchen to unpack it and set it up.

The table and the counters were full, so I had nowhere to put it down. Why are the table and counters full? I don’t know, they’re always full, aren’t they? Except for like 5 minutes after you clean them off and admire them and think “We should always keep them looking like this!” And then don’t.

Lacking any other option, I put the box down on the stovetop. Now, don’t worry, I had not used the stovetop for several hours, no one else was home, the box was only like half-way on the stovetop, and it wasn’t even on the side that I had used.

Next I went to clear some space on the kitchen counter. Which is when I saw it. Or, more specifically them.

“Dammit,” I thought to myself. “Those are definitely mouse droppings. We haven’t had a mouse for months! Since winter, I think!

“I should have Ethan buy some mousetraps before he comes home. Wait, do we have any mousetraps left? I think I bought a three-pack last time. I hate mice. Gross. I’m going to have to clear off the counters and bleach everything.

“Check under the sink…I think that’s where we put them. No, that’s not it. What is that? I have no idea. Why is that even under the sink? Nevermind. Oh wait, I see one! Nope, that’s not one. I guess we don’t — wait! Way in the back there, that’s one! It says DCON on the side of the box!

“Yes! Now, where’s the crappy crunchy peanut butter we use to give the dogs pills and bait mouse traps? On right, it’s next to the stovetop! I used it earlier to give Mort his pill. Oh, UGH! You know the peanut butter is going to be behind the box I put down, isn’t it?”

Which is when I turned towards the stovetop, and saw smoke coming out from underneath the large cardboard box.

I’m going to fast-forward to tell you that everything is OK.

The good news is that there was no harm done except to spot on the bottom of the external box. The inside box was fine. The kitchen now smells like burnt cardboard, which is dëlightful, but compared to burning down the house, it’s OK.

What the {expletive deleted} happened?!?!

As near as I can tell, when I put the box down on the countertop/stovetop, the corner of the box must have hit the knob which turned on the corresponding burner. Which was under the cardboard box.

The good news is that it was only bumped one notch.

Well, you’d think that would be good, right? Except this knob goes from “OFF” to “HIGH” as you turn it clockwise. So accidentally bumping it “Just One Notch” meant that the burner, underneath the cardboard box, was on high. As were my chances of accidentally burning down the house. I’m just glad I didn’t think we might have stored the spare mouse traps in the bathroom or (G-d forbid) in the garage or something, which would have taken me longer to go to and return from.

Here’s where I state the obvious part, and then end with two “funny-ironic” details.

The moral of this story is painfully obvious to anyone capable of reading these words: Never ever ever put anything down on the stovetop (well, except a pot or pan), even if there is nowhere else to put down the thing that you want to put down. Put it on the floor. Yes, even if it’s a big unwieldy box. Because even a stovetop that you 100% know is “off” might not be. Or you could accidentally turn it on. 1 in 1000 odds? Maybe. Higher than that? Maybe. Still. Learn from my mistake. Please.

Assuming the stovetop isn’t on isn’t as bad as assuming a gun is unloaded, but it’s not good, either.

To finish this story, I have two ironies to share.

First: Back in January, I bought two fire extinguishers for the house. One is in the kitchen. I didn’t even remember we had it until about 90 minutes after this incident. I am now left to wonder if things had gotten worse, would I have remembered it before I was standing next to the fire department when it suddenly dawned on me? Who’s to say?

Second: What was in the box that almost caught fire and burned down the house? A counter-top ice maker. Yes, you heard me right: I almost burned down the house… with an ice maker.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mouse-trap to set.

And some counter-tops to bleach.

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