It took me about a month and a half to finally decide that I could no longer go without a functioning stove. I had a stove, but it was on the floor of my kitchen, propped against a cabinet. I called maintenance. Surely they know how to hook a gas stove up to the gas tank without anything exploding. They hooked it up, we tested it, and nothing exploded. Good news. Except when I finally decided to use the stove, about three weeks later, I realized the stove only has two flame settings – high and extremely high.
Okay, I can work with this, I thought. I was cooking my vegetable stir fry concoction, trying to hold the pot a bit above the flames so I wouldn’t burn my food, when at one point I had to put it down to get something from the fridge. After no more than 20 seconds I could already smell something burning. That was quick. Since nothing was terribly burnt, I opened the window to clear out any burn smell, and started eating.
A few minutes into my meal, I hear shuffling and talking outside my door. Someone was on a walkie-talkie. I thought, I wonder what happened? Why are the guards here? Then I got a call on my intercom.
“Good evening ma’am.”
“Uh, yeah, good evening.”
“Yes, is there a fire in your apartment. The alarm went off.”
I didn’t know what alarm they were talking about. I had noticed the smoke detectors in my apartment, but I figured they weren’t working when they didn’t go off. I looked up and noticed that the light that usually flashes intermittently had turned bright red. Apparently it sets off an alarm at the guard station instead of inside the apartment.
“No, no. I was just cooking and I burned something.”
“Ooooh. Over-toasted. OK.”
Over-toasted? That was the best euphemism I had ever heard – code for, “Great, we have a bad cook in Unit 6D.”
I opened the door, realizing that the guards shuffling around outside were there to make sure I didn’t burn the entire highrise to the ground. I said hi and told them I burned something while I was cooking.
“Over-toasted?” they asked.
They looked satisfied and went back to the guard station.