Culinary tip: How not to make toast

I walked into the office this morning and dropped two slices of bread into our antique toaster for breakfast. The toaster usually takes five minutes to induce a slice of bread to turn slightly brown, so I stopped by a friend’s desk, and we got into conversation. Right about the time I started to smell my toast, the fire alarm went off. The whole nine yards: flashing lights, blaring sirens. The entire corridor was blue with smoke. The thing that is supposed to pop the toast up when it’s done had failed.

I assume that people on the two upper levels of our three-level building followed the standard procedure and evacuated, thinking there really was a fire. A trio of my colleagues (who were on their way out anyway) left with a dramatic show of crouching, coughing, gagging, gasping—and, of course, laughing. The rest of my department stayed. I was mortified, though no one else (including the boss, fortunately) seemed to think it was anything but funny, and by lunchtime, when everyone had made at least one smart remark about it, I was laughing too.

The fire department showed up to reset the alarms—a fire engine bearing three firemen in full gear, carrying axes and oxygen tanks. The boss had called to let them know it wasn’t a real emergency, or I suppose they’d have come in with hoses; even without hoses, they were impressive. On balance, though, I think I made the right decision in not asking to have my picture taken with them.


7 Responses to Culinary tip: How not to make toast

  1. Dan Ward says:

    Great story – wish I’d been there! 🙂

  2. mariemcc says:

    Bringing your camera to work — that’s dedication. And as we now see, quite useful. I think you missed an opportunity, not having your photo taken with the firemen. I would have loved to have seen that!

  3. freckled-one says:

    Oh my goodness.. that sounds like something that might happen to me…
    I love that you got a shot of the toast!

  4. passante says:

    In fact the guilty slices of toast were thrown out. I did poke around in a couple of trash cans for them later in the morning so that I could photograph them, but they were not to be found. This was a deliberately burned stand-in. I put my (home) toaster out on the balcony so that I wouldn’t set off the fire alarms in my condo building as an encore!

  5. Elisabeth says:

    I love the fact that you had to “re-enact” this incident for illustration purposes! This past Wednesday, I walked in the building where my office is located at about 9:30, and there was a weird, but familiar burnt smell. Our secretary had just burnt some popcorn. I don’t quite get the popcorn popping thing at that time of day…

  6. Transall says:


    Très intéressante que cette histoire de “toaster” vengeur…

    Accessoirement, je me suis dit qu’en France je n’avais jamais travaillé dans un bureau où l’on faisait griller des pains le matin. Probablement ce genre de pratique n’est”il pas très répandu chez nous… ou alors l’a-t-on interdite après de multiples appels au feu ?


    Didier (photo blog)

  7. Thien says:

    That was so funny!

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