Sunday, January 17, 2010


Our friends Gary and JoAnn enjoy their coffee. Like us, they bought themselves one of those Keurig machines that brews one cup at a time... it’s way faster than brewing a whole pot of coffee when all you want to do is grab a quick cuppa Joe. And thereon hangs a tale...

We had our Saturday afternoon all planned. As soon as I got back from shul, we - Gary, JoAnn, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I - were going to head out to Dawsonville, a little burg about 45 minutes north of here, wherein lies the Big-Ass Outlet Mall. The ladies do loves them some shoppage... and who are we guys to get in their way?

[OK, shopping on Shabbos is not very... shabbosdik. But I’ve been violating the Sabbath for over 57 years now, and I have no immediate plans to stop.]

We headed out on our little trip around 12:30 and stopped to grab lunch in Roswell. Forty-five minutes later, we were in Dawsonville, checking out the Bargain Merch.

Before we could so much as slap credit card on counter, SWMBO’s phone rang. It was Gary and JoAnn’s security monitoring service, calling the Missus because she is their designated emergency contact. “We’re trying to reach Gary, but he’s not answering his phone. There’s an alarm going off at his house.”


“He’s right here with us - I’ll hand the phone to him,” she responded. Turns out Gary had his ringer turned off, and he didn’t feel the phone vibrating in his pocket when the security service was calling.

Nothing gets the pulse racing when you get a call from your security service... especially when you’re more than two minutes away from home. Was it a break-in? What was the problem? It was, the security folks informed Gary, the fire alarm. Something had set it off, and when Gary didn’t answer the phone right away, the security peeps had dispatched the fire department.

A quick call to the next-door neighbor established that it was not, alas, a false alarm. Something was burning in the house! The firemen, acting quickly, broke in through the front door and found the problem: a box that had been sitting on the electric cooktop. Somehow, the cooktop had been inadvertently turned on, and the box, after (presumably) smoldering for awhile, had burst into flame.

We hightailed it out of Dawsonville without spending a red cent (a first), arriving back home a scant 35 minutes later thanks to SWMBO’s expert high-speed driving. She had had the speech all rehearsed in her head in case we got stopped:

Cop: What’s the big hurry - going to a fire?


The fire department was gone by the time we arrived. They had gone in, grabbed the burning box, tossed it in the front yard, and extinguished the fire right there: thankfully, no water squirtage in the house. Amazingly, there was little damage in the kitchen - a scorched stovetop and microwave oven (mounted above the stove) was all. The front door and its frame would need to be replaced, along with the deadbolt lock the firemen had pried open. And the house needed to be aired out, a strong smell of smoke having permeated almost everywhere and everything.

The box that had caught fire was a newly-arrived package from Keurig, filled with little K-cups of coffee. This coffee, now Double-Roasted, sat in a blackened heap in the front yard.

Gary and JoAnn were pretty matter-of-fact about the whole situation. Not a whole lot of damage where they could just as easily have been facing a disaster. It’s not a whole lot of fun to have your house reduced to a smoking pile of rubble.

JoAnn summed it up as well as anyone could. “It’s just things.” You can replace things; you cannot replace people.

Afterwards, we had dinner at our place. I offered Gary some nice smoky Laphroiag single-malt Scotch whisky, along with some smoked brisket and sausage... and he offered to punch me right in the fucking head. (Just kidding.)

As I write this, our friends are resting securely at the Hotel Elisson, where they’ll stay until the smoke-stink-removal people take the blowers away. And there’s at least one lesson in there for many of us: A stove is not a storage area. If you’re not cooking it, keep it the hell off that cooktop! (C’mon - you know you’ve done it.) The other lesson? Smoke detectors are fine and dandy, but a monitored fire alarm system provides a whole lot more protection... especially if something happens when you’re away from home. The monitoring service runs about $20 a month; it’s hard to imagine a better investment.

Now: Anyone care for some hot coffee?

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