It was Saturday morning. I was 13 years old. Mom and Amy were at the grocery store. Dad was outside - probably in the field. Tom was upstairs playing with legos. I was watching cartoons and decided to make myself some breakfast. A pop tart. I enjoy pop tarts. I can eat them cold, but prefer them well-toasted.
In my defense, our toaster at that time was not in full and complete working order. The mechanism that normally pops the tray up when the contents have reached the desired done-ness was out of order. This meant you had to flip up the lever when you felt your breakfast was done-enough to your liking.
I slipped my pop tarts into the appropriate slots, pushed the lever done, and went back to my cartoons to pass the time as they cooked. And cooked. And cooked. Must have been a good cartoon.
It wasn’t long before Tom’s voice yelled down from his legoland “I smell smoke!” It took me a few seconds to get past the normal sister-ignoring-brother function in my brain. But when I did I jumped up and screamed, “My pop tart!!!”
Running into the kitchen I discovered that, indeed, he had smelled smoke. Perhaps because the toaster, still cooking my pop tart, was ablaze. We are not talking some small smoldering black mess of pop tart here, my friends. Oh no. Full flames - three feet high - were shooting out of the appliance.
What to do! My brain scrambled and I attempted to unplug the toaster and carry it outside. That wasn’t happening. It was way too hot. I set it back down. And I stared at it for a few second. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Tom had run down the stairs (he was probably about 9), gone to the sink, filled a glass with water. He handed it to me and I dumped it on the toaster (thankfully unplugged), extinguishing the flames. As my pop tart hissed and the charred remains smoldered a bit I could feel my limbs shaking.
Mom came home to see the charred remains of the toaster sitting outside the back door. Yes, it was the toaster’s last day. We got a new one - one wherein the lever automatically popped up on its own.
And you would think, that would be enough to teach me a lesson.
But years later, in college, I was fixing some lunch at the commons. I ate a lot of toast back then. Mostly because this picky eater couldn’t really stand to eat anything other than toast, pudding, or jello. (And you wonder why I weighed 115 pounds?!) I stuck my toast in the industrial size toaster and waited for it to cycle through. As the bread began its journey on the conveyor type system, I noticed I had inadvertently slipped a corner of it in between the grill slots. This didn’t seem like a problem until I watched as the bread rubbed along the heating coils. And there it was...the small flame. I immediately turned off the machine. And all my friends had a good laugh over my toasting blunder.
So the moral of this story is that I don’t play well with toasters.