Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fires & Free Furniture

My mom was in a house fire when she was an Au Pair in her 20's.  She has understandably been hyper-aware of fire hazards and fire safety ever since.  When I was a kid, we had household fire drills where we would have to list and then use specific escape routes should one be blocked.  Those drills ended in tears when her 8-year-old daughter adamantly refused to climb out of her second story window onto a precariously placed ladder leaning against a flimsy wooden flower planter.  What?!  It was SCARY! I was 8!  14-year-old me would have loved the excuse to climb out the window, but 8-year-old me was rather wary of heights and enough of a daddy's girl to have a working knowledge of math and rudimentary woodworking.  She took one look out the window at that ladder and that planter, did the math, and said NUH-UH!  NOPE! NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

When we moved out of the house I grew up in, mom chose a place directly across the street from a fire hall. She maintains to this day that this was merely a coincidence. I think not.

Me & N visiting said fire hall (& fire men!)
The ironic twist?  Shortly after moving into the new house, my mother - the one who fiendishly drilled into our heads that we shouldn't leave unattended candles burning, or heating pads plugged in - after years of these warnings to groans of "I KNOW Mom!  Duh!" she left a plugged-in faulty heating pad on the couch and left the house.  It melted a quarter-sized hole through the fabric of the couch before I woke up and noticed the burning plastic smell, ran upstairs to investigate, and yanked the damn cord out of the wall.  Unfortunately, there wasn't really any smoke to speak of, so the firemen across the street never saw signs of distress and never ran to the rescue... Alas, my dreams of being "rescued" by handsome firemen were dashed. A few months later I posted an ad on Craigslist to get rid of the couch and a few other items.  I wrote the following (mostly true, though not contiguously so) story to advertise them waaaaaaay back in 2007.  I have slightly edited it, only to remove glaring spelling and typographical errors.  Sadly the accompanying pictures have disappeared, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Title: (free stuff) FREE Furniture - you pick up.

Picture this:

It's my day off, so I have lazily stayed in bed until around 10:30am. 

Finally resigned to getting up, I swing my legs over the side of my bed.  My feet do not reach the ground, as the mismatched Queen-sized Mattress set I've had for a couple of years and the new bed frame I've had a few months put the bed top to about waist height.  I jump off of the bed and land on a soft, warm rug.
The "Rug" Kaila

The "rug" gives a yelp and limps off out of the way, favoring one of her rear legs.  Yes, that's right, it's my dog, not the fuzzy rug that's supposed to be covering the floor by my bed.  No - that has migrated to the other side of the room, due to the dog's midnight need to dash back and forth (barking of course) through the house chasing fairies or gremlins, or whatever it is that dogs noisily chase in the middle of the night when the household is desperately trying to sleep.

Having convinced the dog that she is in no danger of being stepped on again, I coax her over and am able to ascertain that she isn't seriously injured, just understandably cautious of feet falling from the sky.

I start up the stairs to get that much needed mug of tea from the kitchen, only to trip over the same dog as she decides that she needs to occupy the same part of each step that I do, at exactly the same time as I occupy it.

Halfway up the stairs, having only tripped over the dog four more times, I smell something that isn't quite right.  I struggle with the "child proof" baby gate we have installed at the top of the stairs to keep my niece and nephew from an unwanted tumble, and with a final yank, manage to open it.

Trying to place the smell, I follow it into the family room where I can see that the heating pad on the couch is emitting an unwelcome waft of smoke.

I rush over and unplug the heating pad, trying to avoid the grotesque smell of melted plastic and fried electronics.  After rushing the melting heating pad to the kitchen sink - only tripping once over the dog, who is quite interested in the intriguing smells emitting from both furniture and heating pad - I rush back to the couch, thinking it must also be on fire.

Attempting to sidestep the dog, and thus avoid tripping over her for the umpteenth time, I misjudge the width of our dining room table and catch the leg of one of the dining room chairs on my way past.  You can probably guess by now that the chair and I both take a dive, with the dog bouncing back and forth, voicing her excitement over the entire situation, and punctuating it with a big doggy kiss on my cheek.

Figuring that the potentially burning couch is a priority, I don't even glance at the toppled chair until much later.

Now limping to match the dog's earlier gait, I make my way over to the couch.  To my amazement and relief, it is not on fire, nor has it been too badly damaged.  The couch does have a small discoloured area, but is otherwise in good shape considering it's brush with certain firey death -er- destruction.  I won't lie to you, there is still the small matter of the smell to be attended to, but at this point I am just glad the house hasn't burned down, and I haven't killed the dog or been killed by tripping over said dog. 

Yes, for months my friends and I have been constructing elaborate fantasies involving ways to run into the firemen across the street, but smoke billowing out of the family room window is NOT how I want to grab their attention.

I should probably note here that the heating pad in question was one of those heating pads that is supposed to automatically turn itself off after a set amount of time, and is supposed to cut out if anything goes amiss.  Yeah, right.  My mother had left it plugged in (but turned off) the previous night, and had gone off early in the morning to some appointment or other, blissfully unaware of the coming excitement.

Nursing my bruised shin, I open the windows to air out the room, and make my way back to the toppled dining room chair.  It did not fare so well.  Somehow in tripping over it and landing partially on it, I managed to break one of its legs in half.  I don't know about you, but a three-legged chair just doesn't quite work for me.  Apparently my mom agreed, because she later replaced the dining room chairs with simple, yet much sturdier wooden ones.

This was not the way I'd planned to spend my one day off.

Since the day these events took place, we've made a few changes around here.

Sadly, the heating pad did not survive the ordeal.  It went to the place where all heating pads who have exhausted the ability to serve their owners wind up - the city dump.

The broken dining room chair and it's remaining 4 relatives were relegated to the garage while the garage-sale sturdy wooden ones took their place.  They're what many craigslisters might call "retro."  Personally I think they're gawdaful ugly, but I'm not one to judge other peoples opinions, and you may like the design... Or maybe you've tripped over one or two of them yourself, and need more to make a full set.  You could always recover them to match your decor.

The Queen-sized Box-spring Mattress has been removed from my bed, and placed in the garage for storage.  Note that this is only the box-spring part of the mattress, the other part is happily residing on my bedframe.  Now my feet can actually touch the ground when seated on the bed.

The dog has since passed away.  No, this was not a result of being stepped on or tripped over.  She was 10, and she had a relatively good life with us.  The mattress was removed a couple of months before she passed away, so for those months she was only bumped by feet leaving the bed, not jumped on as in the past.  Though I should note that her habit of being literally underfoot never was resolved.  She tripped many a person in her remaining months.  We loved her anyways.

The Couch on which the melting heating pad was found was placed in the rec room downstairs, where it is now taking up too much space to allow the room to actually serve its purpose.  The couch is in surprisingly good shape.  As you can see from the pictures, there is a discoloured area, but the fabric did not melt through.  The odour is long gone.  If you throw a blanket over the couch, you'd never even guess that anything had ever happened to it.

If you can provide any or all of these items (the RECLINING LOVESEAT, BOX-SPRING MATTRESS, 4 INTACT DINING ROOM CHAIRS, even the 1 BROKEN CHAIR) a home, and a ride to that home, please contact me.

I don't intend to have another day off like the aforementioned one anytime soon.  I've still got the scar on my shin to remind me of this one.

I had fun with this post, getting several positive responses before some holier-than-thou people decided they (and I quote) "didn't want to read a book" to find out what I was giving away.  So they flagged it and the post was removed.  Funny how I could get ten emails from people saying that they were nominating the post for "best of" and thanking me for giving them a chuckle, then two emails from people who couldn't be bothered to read the post (newsflash, ya don't have to read it if you don't want to...) and then the post was deleted by automatic flagging. 
I did get responses from people who wanted the couch and chairs, and someone took the box-spring when we leaned it against the fence, so it was ultimately a win.

No comments:

Post a Comment