Monday, November 18, 2013

Work Ethic (Apothecary, Part 1)

I worked for my dad for years at a pharmacy in Missouri. I still remember driving down Ward Parkway in his truck listening to talk radio and willing him to drive faster. I’m not sure why I was in such a rush to get to work, but I was young and almost always in a hurry. And, of course, I thought my dad was slow because that’s just how teenage girls are.
While working at the downtown location, I met some amazing people. I don’t remember all of their names, but they were hard working and loyal to my father and his business. They were because he was the example. He was always there earlier and then later than all of his workers. He would go the extra mile for his customers and he became part of the community. Even when really awful things (things that made the evening news) would happen, he would turn around and open up the store early the following day. 
Michael thinks this story epitomizes my father (there are many others, but this is a good one). On his way to work in my mother’s minivan, he was in an accident. Not just a fender bender--the truck in front of him lost his exhaust system hitting the car my dad was driving, taking out one side and causing it to flip, multiple times, and finally landing in a ditch. He climbed out of the driver-side window and was looking at the damaged car when help arrived. One person asked him if there were any survivors. “Ummm. Yes, me.”
 The tow truck arrived and pulled the disabled car out, and my dad asked if the driver could drop him off at his store on his way to drop the car off. The hospital? No. Work? Without question.
In the basement of this downtown location, there were these huge apothecary cabinets--painted green and scratched revealing many layers of paint and a deep stain. They smelled musty and showed years of wear. But, I loved them. Even as an impatient teenage girl, I saw something in these old cabinets and I knew that I would have them in my home one day. I told my father and he listened. Years later, when he closed the store, he moved those cabinets into storage. When they moved their home, he had them moved again.
A few years ago, Michael and I visited my parents and brought one of the cabinets back in a rented truck. The bottom cabinet is complete and I’m working on the top now (Apothecary, Part 2). Clearly, I’m not in a rush like I was when I was a teenager.
Part 3 and 4 are in waiting in the wings now. We brought them back this summer.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

15 million recalled, but ours wasn’t one

I woke up to the smell of an electrical fire. You know that burning acidic plastic smell? If you don’t, it’s a smell that you can’t easily forget. It was about 3 in the morning and it was strong . I had to first figure out if I was dreaming or awake. Unfortunately, I was awake and then really awake.

We had recently replaced outlets in the kitchen so I immediately thought I knew the source. I woke up Michael and that was his thought, too. We were wrong, and a little groggy, and concerned. He decided to check out the attic and crawl space while I went around touching around each outlet and petting the walls to feel for heat.

We quickly narrowed the smell to one room, but couldn’t figure it out. We started to unplug everything. Moved furniture to unplug the television components and were overwhelmed by the fumes. Our surge protector was melting (albeit slowly). We took it apart and the battery was fine, but the rest was self-destructing and it smelled horrible. We moved it outside to the driveway so that it could melt outside or at least cool off.

We tried to go back to bed, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what might of happened had we not been home, or out of town, or just didn’t have sensitive noses. The thought of your home burning down doesn’t really reassure you as you are trying to get back to sleep. After a few hours of fitful rest, I decided to google the product. There were years of complaints on message boards and big news of a recall just last month (October 2013). I strangely felt relieved, until I realized our model—the one smoldering in our driveway—was not included in the recall.

I’ve since sent an email with photos of the damaged product to the company. I may have used the words “catastrophic malfunction” in my message. I fully expect them to do the right thing… but I still can’t get that smell out of my head.