My Very Wonderful Boss bought a microwave and mini-fridge for our tiny backroom (and then told us she doesn’t want anyone taking breaks in the backroom over the holidays…but that could be another thread) and we are delighted.
Then, after about 3 weeks of gleaming white, clean, sparkling newness, VWB decides to make microwave popcorn. She’s working alone, and since it’s a small microwave, she’s not sure how long the popcorn will take. Figuring it to be a low-power microwave, she just sets the timer to (about) 5 minutes and leaves the room.
There weren’t actual flames, she says, but quite a charred, blackened mess, and that horrific burnt-popcorn stench. The interior is stained yellow, and she used quite a lot of air freshener trying to rid the store of the smell. By the time I come in to work two days later, the smell has mellowed into a baked-bean smell, until you open the microwave…then it hits you full force.
I bring in baking soda to scour the interior, but that yellow crud isn’t coming off. It has even left stains around the edges of the knobs on the outside. The smell is really bugging me, so I research methods of removal, and the most popular seems to heating a lemon in some water for a minute or two and letting it stand a while. So I bring in a lemon.
Enter Token Male Co-worker. We’re working together one night, and I remember the lemon in my purse when I smell the chili he has brought in to heat up for dinner. Very fragrant. I cut up the lemon and stick it in a coffee mug full of water. I ask TMC to “put it in the microwave for a minute or two when you’re done heating your dinner”.
We get busy with customers, and I begin to smell lemon about 20 minutes later. I run to the back room, and the microwave is still running. The whole place smells like burnt lemons, and I fearfully open the microwave. All the water is gone from the cup, and is all over the floor of the microwave. The lemon is…poached is the only word I can think of. The peel is the texture of mush, and it just smells bad. I wipe up all the water, throw away the soft, soggy lemon, and then ask TMC how long he had set the timer for. “Oh, I didn’t remember how long you said, so I just turned it all the way up.” 35 minutes.
He didn’t even seem to register that this might be too long for one lemon and one cup of water. I decided not to chide him…what would be the point? He’s a grown man (30’s) who cooks all the time for himself and his partner. He has to know better. He just has to.
The next day, VWB asks me about the strange lemon odor in the backroom. I just sigh.