Monday, July 6, 2020

The Twilight Zone

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published July 8, 2020] ©2020

I’ve had people say to me at times that unusual stuff seems to happen to me.  I have always demurred, insisting that I don’t think any weirder things occur in my life than anyone else’s.  Until now.  This was truly a Twilight Zone experience.

I recently recounted the untimely crumping of our stove in March during a time when neither repair people nor appliance installers would set foot into your home because of coronavirus.  After many stove-less weeks, we were ultimately able to prevail (it will remain a secret how) and get a new oven control panel and switch panel installed, finally reprieved from microwave and crock pot cuisine.  It was especially important for my husband whose retirement passion had become sourdough baking.  I truly began fearing for his mental health in a loafless world. 

The Thursday night before the Memorial Day weekend, a mere two weeks after we had been restored to stovedom, we were just finishing a late (8:45) dinner when I heard what sounded like the Beep of Death coming from the oven.  Uh-oh. When our stove panel shorted out in March, it beeped intermittently around the clock and drove me so crazy that I would have taken a sledge hammer to the stove if we owned one.  Unfortunately, the stove is on the same circuit breaker as other kitchen appliances, mostly notably the refrigerator, so flipping it off was not an option. 

Upon investigation, the display panel had mysteriously lit up (I know I turned the stove off) and was querying if I wanted to do a convection bake.  I have never done a convection bake, ever.  I turned off the oven but seconds later, it lit back up with  a new message:  did I want to do a timed bake with meat? (Another setting I have never ever used.)  Every time I turned off the oven, a new message would come up seconds later. Then, terrifyingly, the  broiler started to crank up to 500 degrees.  It was like poltergeist had taken possession of this machine. 

It couldn’t have been worse timing.  The grandchildren - whom we had not seen since Christmas – were coming the next day for the three day holiday weekend.  $300 of comestibles for the weekend had just been purchased that day so flipping the kitchen circuit breaker was fairly low on my list. 

Not knowing what else to do, I started taking pictures (when all else fails, take pictures) of each new message on the display panel to document this issue for either a repair person and/or an exorcist. I was in a total state of panic. 

As I was snapping pictures, I thought I detected something moving inside the electronic panel.  A flashlight determined that it was a large bug – a roach? -  running back and forth inside the glass.  All I could think of was this stupid bug was going to short out my brand new $500 oven panel - AND potentially burn down my house by keeping the oven on continuous broil. 

Who the heck could you possibly call to deal with this at 9 p.m. on the Thursday night of a three day holiday weekend during a pandemic?

Now, you’re probably wondering where my nuclear physics-trained Cal Tech-educated engineer husband was during all this. 

“Olof!” I cried, “what are we going to do?  We can’t have the oven on broil all night!”  He shrugged, poured himself an after-dinner Scotch, then went to watch sourdough English muffin videos on YouTube.  He was branching into raisin varieties.

I reflected that our 25th anniversary was the next week.  Would there be a 26th?  #notlikely

Some ten minutes and 12 messages after it had all started, the oven turn-ons stopped. I think the roach finally found its way out of the switch panel.  Or fried itself on the broil setting. 

Now, I will have to confess that in the two weeks leading up to this episode I had, for the first time ever, seen a few roachy-like creatures in my kitchen if I went in there late at night.

I did, however, have a neighbor (Neighbor A) who had had a serious roach problem a few years ago.  The city had put some irrigation pipes on the set-back on their property which somehow seemed to have created a massive creepy underground colony of roaches who were regularly invading their home.  The city finally came out and decided to clear the sewer lines (and hopefully the roaches) by blasting water at very high velocity from the manhole in front of the home of a neighbor (Neighbor B) across the street.

It was an epic fail. Fortunately no one was sitting on a commode in Neighbor B’s house when a geyser of high pressure water blew through their toilets all the way up to the ceiling creating, besides utter life-altering terror in the residents, a giant sewer-eal mess.  The city was very nice about cleaning it all up but these neighbors now require that they be notified if city water crews do anything in that manhole involving sewer maintenance. 

When I called Neighbor A on May 22, they had been seeing some roaches recently themselves, but fortunately only outside.  We collectively engaged a pest control service to smite the little buggers in both abodes.

So I guess I haven’t been the only person to experience poltergeist-level domestic terror episodes. Just the thought of a billion roaches living under your house would keep me up at night.  That toilet episode most definitely took years off Neighbor B’s life expectancies, as did the saga I wrote about last year of a different neighbor who had a colony of raccoons living in her crawl space who were trying to claw their way through the floor in the middle of the night.  If that wouldn’t scare the s—t out of you, I don’t know what would. 

But at this point, I am suffering from stove-related PTSD.  I’ve already Googled sledge hammers. It better be listening.

 I have never ever used "convection roast"

 Didn't even know there was a convection meat option

 Uh-oh - now it wants to broil?

Turned the oven off yet again but it still wants to broil

The English muffins came out great. 
Husband's reputation in the household not so much. 

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