Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cooking with the Fire Department - This is a long one, grab a cup of coffee first!

Going to work has become a routine for me. Aside from the culinary creations varying, the other things at work generally stay the same. Not so on one eventful day.

I generally go to the grocery store (or stores) early in the morning and show up at work. I was running a bit late, but my employer wasn't home, so it really didn't matter. My time is my own and my employer seldom cares about the times I keep. The food I prepare is the goal, not the number of hours I put in. I got to work and had to hurry in to use the bathroom. On the way, I dumped my purse, cell phone and keys on the kitchen counter. I returned to the kitchen, washed my hands, and put on my chef coat. I placed some chicken breasts in a pot of water with bay leaves and peppercorns. I put this on the burner, which was set at medium-high. I immediately began to sauté some onions in olive oil, when I realized I would need some white wine. I moved the sauté pan off the burner, to a cold burner, as I went to the outer refrigerator to get a bottle of wine. With wine bottle in hand I went to the kitchen door. As my hand touched the shiny knob, I realized that it was locked. I tried it numerous times, as if my panic would compel it to open. It was still locked.

Many people leave keys in hidden places. I searched the area for the key that I was sure existed. There had to be one and it had to be nearby. I searched, and searched, and searched. Did I tell you that I looked hard for the key? No key. I got on my knees and asked for some help. I was really worrying about the pot with chicken. It had plenty of water, but it was on a high enough temperature that I knew my time was limited. I remembered my cell phone and knew that my employer would be easy to reach. Oops, the cell phone had been dropped on the kitchen counter by yours truly earlier. My keys were there too!

I located some tools and proceeded to try to get the lock to open. They had a really strong lock. I made a mental note to tell them how good their door lock was. I found a small ladder. It was one with four steps, but that had to be enough for me to reach an open window. I decided that trying reachable windows first would make perfect sense. They had some great locks and were conscientious about using them. I carefully place the ladder under the kitchen window and navigated around all of the plants to climb the steps. How thorough! They had all of those windows locked too. I tried to use a tool on the locks for the window, but the tool fell from my hand and landed in a bush. I stretched to make myself tall enough to see in the window. There was still steam coming from the pot, so it had not boiled dry yet. I tried the window lock again, but this time without the benefit of a tool. I made a mental note to tell them how safe their house was from thieves. Fire might be a different story though!

I walked the long, hot distance to a neighbor's house. When the gentleman saw a chef coming from his neighbor's yard, he immediately asked if they were throwing a party. It was just routine cooking, and my day had not been much of a party. He was kind enough to let me use the phone. I did not have my employer's cell phone memorized. It had always been too easy to just push a button on my phone. Fortunately, I remembered their agenda for the day. Maybe it was not so fortunate. Each call was met with, "Sorry. You just missed them." One astute person even suggested that I try their cell phone. Realizing my frustration, the neighbor suggested that I go back and throw something through the window so I could gain access. I thanked him and went on my way.

The ladder was still under the kitchen window, so I climbed up for another look. The steam had lessened. Time was running out.  I went to get down from the ladder and lost my footing. I fell into a large rhododendron bush. I knew they would have to take the price of the window out of my pay, but it was better than burning down one of the most exquisite houses I've had the pleasure to work in. I found a large hammer in the garage. I covered my face with my chef jacket to protect myself from flying glass. Then I struck as hard as I could with the tool. The glass pane seemed to laugh at me as it sprung back! I made a mental note to tell them that their home was safer than Fort Knox!

By now, I was really getting scared. I ran to the neighbor's house and called the fire department. After a lengthy talk with the dispatcher. No there isn't a fire yet. Lady, this isn't a prank. I cook for these people and I'm locked out of the house with something cooking on the stove top. There will be a fire soon if we don't do something. She never sounded convinced, but she told me a unit was on the way. She must have known how far apart the houses were and how few of them could be seen from the road, because she asked me to wait at the end of the driveway and flag down the fire engine.

I couldn't bear  the thought of trying to explain this one if I had to call the dispatcher for a car accident! Soon, I could hear sirens.

It seemed like a very long time before I could see fire trucks, but they finally arrived. I waved to them and walked up the driveway. Can you imagine what a strange feeling it is to have a fire truck looming a few paces behind you? I stopped and waited for them to grab their equipment and go to the house. Something struck me. Not physically! No, not the fire truck! I noticed that the fire engine had extremely good looking firemen on it. It looked like they were on a modeling assignment or a movie set. Yikes! Am I on Candid Camera?Is there still a show like that? The commander must have been the brains of the crew. He was not male model material. After ascertaining that I had tried everything to get into the house, he reached out and tried to turn the door knob. See, I told you he was smart!  He then told me he could force the door opened. I begged him to hurry.

The door looked as though it had been run over by a tractor trailer and rehung. Lovely! The commander and a few men entered. I went with them and answered questions of where the kitchen was. When we entered the pot had just cooked dry. The commander removed it from the heat. He told me it would have started burning soon and I had done the right thing. I knew that.

After fielding a few questions about what I was cooking, the firemen left. I waited until my employer got home. I met the wife at the door and explained everything. She told me she was at fault for not showing me where the key was. I had been within about an inch of their secret hiding spot for it. The husband came home and told me his wife had never liked the door anyway. There was a person there to take measurements for a new door in under an hour! I was still shook, but I continued cooking my menu. The food turned out well and I eventually stopped shaking. The tip was great that day!

Things I learned from this.
1. Keep your keys in your pocket
2. Don't work in Fort Knox.
3. Single women who live in that area should call the fire department whenever possible!
4. Some people are golden to work for!
5. I don't like rhododendron bushes. 


  1. Funny!!! I love the pictures!

  2. Sorta hilarious, after you were able to get in safely. :) I'm glad everything turned out to be ok. And I agree the pictures are adorable!


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