Last Sunday, I managed to start a small fire in my microwave oven.
What was on fire was a pair of White Castle cheeseburgers -- in their plastic wrapper. The directions call for you to open one end of the plastic wrapper, leaving the burgers inside, and then cook them for one minute in the microwave.
Well, instead of punching in "1:00," I accidentally punched "10:00."
I then left the room to check something on the Internet. I smelled something burning, but I figured someone else (I do not live alone) had put popcorn in the microwave and burned it. I figured, "that's not my White Castle burgers, because they never burned when I cooked them before." I still had not realized my error when setting the cook time. I smelled the burning White Castles.
As I walked into the living room, I was met with a thick haze, which got thicker as I got into the kitchen. I opened the microwave only to be hit with an explosion of smoke, which quickly cleared to reveal two black, charcoal-looking objects. They were covered in oozing, brown melted plastic, which spread out in the microwave like an evil blob.
All I could smell was burnt wood. I do not know how burnt cheeseburgers and melted plastic ends up smelling like burnt wood, but it does.
As of Thursday, the kitchen still smelled like burnt wood.
The microwave, by the way, is fine.
Often, a person's carelessness results in disaster. We do something so often that it becomes routine. Then, we begin to miss our mistakes because we assume we have taken the same actions in which we were always engaged.
Sometimes, we zone out and the body keeps functioning on its own because it has gotten used to performing a specific routine.
This act of careless regard for everyday activities, such as driving, walking or cooking, is what gets people in trouble. Take driving as an example. If you do not know where you are going, and need directions to get somewhere, you are going to be a lot more careful about how fast you drive.
You will pay more attention to what is around you because you may be looking for specific landmarks.
Therefore, you are more cognizant of the people, and other vehicles, around you. You are more likely to avoid hitting them because you are more likely to notice their presence.
Once you get used to going to a particular destination, however, you become less observant. You have gotten used to the path you need to take, and you, therefore, are not as careful about observing your surroundings.
That's when life serves you with a double dose of flaming burgers.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.