Wednesday, August 14, 2002

The Lowly Toaster Oven...

[music|Counting Crows--Hard Candy]

"Dear Mr. Ralph Fletcher:
Hi. My name is Andy Schlaack, and I like toaster ovens (really I do!), but that's not why I'm writing..."
Ralph Fletcher--Live Writing

Just the word toaster oven sparked this memory for me about my high school days. I went to a "special" high school. There were only about 20 people at the most attending at any given time, and it was run by the local hospital as an outpatient clinic/rehab school thingy. It was like one rung down from Juvenile Hall. Basically these were kids whom no one knew what to do with, so they warehoused them here in hopes they would make the decision to straighten up or whatever. My one infraction (attempting to run away from home twice when I was 12) landed me a shrink of mid level competence and six years of attendance at this lovely institution (it's amazing how much mileage you can get just by being a smart aleck.)

Anyway, in the facilities of this place was a little kitchen area, a fridge and a table with foodstuffs and a toaster oven. About every eight months or so, the toaster oven would either catch fire or just explode. We would receive these toaster ovens from god knows where, it often looked like the electrician general would not recommend the use of them. There were kids in this place that would periodically have to be sent to "the quiet room" to calm down, and they trusted us with these combustible monstrosities. It was quite humorous, to go in the back and smoke a joint, go to the kitchen area and start an English muffin, and then sit down and watch the thing explode.

We would remain in a state of toaster ovenlessness for about two months. Then one of the head guys would make an announcement, "Ok guys, they're sending us another toaster oven," they would look around the room and pause for gravity, "So let's take good care of it and maybe we'll show them we deserve the privileges we get." And the whole toaster oven drama would start all over again.

Who would have thought that the lowly toaster oven could provide such a trenchant object lesson for having faith in human nature?