When I lived in the city, I walked home, spending my lunch hour there. I'm sure it is a common case to have a full hour for lunch but to be unable to spend the whole of it actually lunching, and I made use of the time by preparing a meal that required more than the simple open-Ziploc-bag step. Then, I would usually sit for a little while, relax, play with the cats--it was a nice change from the work place environment. Then, with ten minutes to spare, I would make my way back to work.
My last laptop was an HP, and it experienced innumerable problems. I remained continually thankful for having purchased one of their warranty programs that allowed me to send it back to them, free of charge, to be repaired. One afternoon, an empty box arrived on my apartment doorstep just in time for my arrival home for lunch. I eagerly carried it inside. Two days prior, my laptop had suddenly shut down without explanation, and to add insult to injury, a blue notice on the screen indicated that the hard drive was somehow unreadable. Although it was after 11, I called the HP hotline and asked for a box. All I had to do, which I had done many times before in tried and true fashion, was put the laptop in the box as instructed and drop it off at a FedEx location.
I built a quesadilla by layers in a pan on the stove--tortilla, cheese, grilled chicken, veggies, tortilla. I turned the heat on medium and I went into the bedroom to pack the computer. I opened the box, fit the packing, and....
My concentration was destroyed by a burst of pulsing noise from the front hallway. I dashed into the kitchen--the bottom tortilla was entirely black, there was smoke pouring up from the pan, and the fire alarm had responded in kind. I switched off the burner, but the tortilla continued to cook from the residual heat. What to do? I picked up the pan and put it down on the nearby countertop--big mistake. The counter was lined with plastic, and after lifting it up in acknowledgement of the error, the surface had responded by producing a round, brown spot and a raised boil. Oven mit on hand, I held the pan, desperate to find somewhere to put it. I opened the kitchen window and set the pan on the sil. Then, I opened the door by the alarm, calming the sound.
Quiet descended for two minutes. Then, the doorbell rang.
At the door were two firemen, both dressed in full grey and yellow gear, helmets included. I caught a glimpse of the firetruck, lights ablaze, behind them.
"Hi, we got a call."
Until that moment, I thought my series of mishaps was a form of private suffering. Annoying as it all was, the parking lot behind the house was conveniently empty. I doubted that anyone in the nearest houses could hear the alarm. The truck in front of my house changed the game entirely. Neighbors came to their windows, pedestrians slowed down on their walks and runs to observe the action. Now, everyone knew I had done something stupid--and it didn't matter what.
A little reassurance and the firemen left, and they couldn't have moved the truck away too soon.
I went back to the pan, which had cooled with the combination of time and air from the open window. When I lifted it up, about half of the top layer of paint on the window sil came off with the bottom of the pan.
Suddenly, the pre-packed sandwich looked like a much better option.