I must admit I was spoiled. I grew up in Southern California. Nice pleasant days were the norm. Oh, we had rainy days. Sometimes it rained on and off for a week, but thunderstorms were so rare that they caused a lot of talk. I can also remember days when it was 107 degrees for as much as a week straight. The bad part about that is that the houses weren’t built for it. Only people who were well off had air-conditioning, and I certainly wasn’t well off.
On the other hand, I can remember walking to school one day and there were little pieces of ice lying on the street. I don’t know why but someone was apparently trying to water his lawn. It was so cold that the water coming out of the sprinkler froze. Eventually the water in the hose did too.
With those few exceptions, we had day after day of nice weather. The temperature was generally between 65 in the winter, to low 80’s in the summer. As I said, it was enough to spoil a person.
At any rate, it was one of those exceptionally nice days and I just finished work–teaching electronics on the Marine air base. We’d been married a few months and my new wife wasn’t much of a cook. She could make eggs for breakfast, and she could make hamburgers, and, of course frozen dinners. Since we were married, she, for the most part, learned to make French fries and boiled eggs.
After I opened the door to the apartment, I noticed an odor. I called out, not knowing where Kaay was, “What’s that smell?”
She made a mad dash for the kitchen while saying something about forgetting all about the eggs. It seemed she was boiling eggs, got busy and forgot. As I arrived, there was no more water in the pan. I don’t guess you could say the eggs were burnt, but they weren’t exactly edible either.
We talked it over for a while and decided she could make another try at boiling the eggs and we could have egg salad sandwiches and French fries for dinner, but I needed to make a quick trip to the store, a few minutes away. I can’t remember what it was I needed to get, but whatever it was we needed it for dinner. Seems like it might have been milk or soft drinks.
At this point, I guess I should pause to say that we had an electric stove. It was supplied with the apartment.
As I got back from the store, Kaay met me at the door with a question, “Is it baking powder or baking soda that you’re supposed to put on grease fires?”
Needless-to-say, that sparked just a little bit of panic in me. The only thing that gave me any solace was that I saw neither smoke nor fire. I figured it couldn’t be too bad, yet. “Is there a fire?” I asked as I pushed by her.
She replied, “Not anymore.”
Only somewhat relieved, I asked what happened. She said that the oil for the French fries spilled over and got on the heating element. It burst into flames. Then, of course, she said, “I couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to use so I sprayed 409 (the cleaner) on it.”
Somehow, that didn’t make me feel a lot better, nor could I understand the reasoning. Although I was afraid to ask I did, “What happened?”
She said the fire went out and it just made kind of a brown foam. Then trying to cheer me up she added, “It cleaned up real easy. You can hardly tell there was a fire there.”
Between the smell of the boiled eggs and the small kitchen fire, we decided to go out to eat. Not only was it more pleasant, but just a bit safer too.
I have often thought about sending the story into Reader’s Digest, but then I keep thinking, what if someone else uses it on a fire? We got lucky. No telling what would happen if others tried using 409 in similar situations. I don’t recommend it for putting out fires and I suspect the makers of 409 would prefer everyone restrict its use to cleaning.
Although we had our trying times, Kaay is now a good cook. The good part is that there have never been any more fires, though she does still make quite a bit of smoke when she cooks. When she wants to do any serious frying, we have to disable the smoke detector.
However, to this day, I’ve wondered just how good 409 would be for extinguishing fires. The fire departments might be using the wrong thing when they use the commercial foam they put on oil and gasoline fires. Maybe they need to start using 409. Then, as Kaay said, it just might make the cleanup easier afterward.
(Oh yes. One little important thing to remember: most say the proper thing to use would be baking soda, or better yet, an appropriate fire extinguisher. I have no idea about baking powder. I would prefer not to find out.)
Thinking back over the situation, I should have kept a box or two of baking soda in easy reach. A few words of instruction might have come in handy too. Then again, maybe we would have had more difficulty cleaning up.