Tag Archives: explosion

A Different Kind of Explosion

One of my earlier posts told about an explosion involving an old Sear’s truck that was loud but relatively harmless. Well, except for the exhaust system and who may have possibly hit the exhaust system but then we don’t know for sure that anybody actually hit it because I was directed by a fireman to keep moving. Okay, he was off duty and kind of complicit in the whole explosion thing but I was young and impressionable back then.

All of that leads me to something that happened just last night which involved quite a bit more clean up but was ultimately just as funny. And nothing was truly broken, exactly. Let me tell you the tale of A Different Kind of Explosion. (and no, there are no pictures)(not of the explosion anyway)

It all started two nights ago when Lori and I went to Texas Roadhouse because we had some money left on a gift card someone had been so nice to give us. (you know who you are but just as a little clue to everyone else, we still haven’t used the Krispie Kreme coupon that came with it)



Usually, Texas Roadhouse has pretty good service and we’ve never had to wait long to get our food but apparently ordering catfish at a steakhouse must have thrown the whole kitchen into a tizzy because, although we got the fried pickles and our salads pretty quickly, it was going on 45 minutes for Lori’s steak and my catfish. I know it was the catfish’s fault because it was hotter than…..well, it was just really really hot and Lori’s steak was not. It was warm but certainly not hot.


Lori wanted to go to Michael’s (what’s the chances of that happening) after supper, so we were kind of rushed and decided to take most of our main meal home in a box. Lori did something that she rarely does and complained to a manager. Usually, Lori will call for a manager so she can praise the wait person or say something positive  about the restaurant but their tardiness had messed with her plans to go to Michael’s, that is unforgivable.


Now she didn’t actually go off on anybody but she explained the problem to a manager and he was very nice, checked on the time the order was put in and decided it was not acceptable to have to wait that long for a steak and some catfish. Even if it was a steakhouse and somebody was silly enough to order catfish. (he didn’t say that but I just assumed) He was a good sport, we were a good sport and he comped us 50% off our meal. Usually, we don’t accept comps because we are really only trying to let the manager know there is a problem and not get free food but…..well, did I mention that Lori wanted to go to Michael’s?

Okay, I’m spending way too much time on the lead in and I haven’t mentioned anything about an explosion yet.

So, we went home with steak and fish in their respective boxes, Lori actually still had time to breeze into Michael’s and buy something, so we were happy campers and/or crafters.


I was a happy camper because it meant that I got to have catfish for breakfast the next morning and well, that just makes me happy. We decided to use Lori’s steak for an omelet for both of us for supper and all was right with the world. So far.

I made the omelet but as sometimes happens, it stuck just a little and it turned into scrambled eggs with steak in them. Hey, it happens to the best of us and besides, it still had all the same stuff in it. We were still unsuspectingly happy but we weren’t full. I should have gotten some stuff at the store to make that omelet a little more robust but I was too busy getting hurricane supplies and it ended up being a kind of weak omelet. It was good but there just wasn’t enough of it.

I knew this was going to happen and so I had already thought of the shaky pancake mix as a way to make us a sort of dessert that stayed right with the breakfast theme that the omelet had begun. I’m not sure if everybody knows what shaky pancake mix is so I will offer a short explanation because it is important to the tale but I still haven’t gotten to the explosion part yet.


Shaky pancake mix is the pancake mix that comes in a little plastic container and all you have to do is add water and shake it to get pancake batter. (told you it would be quick) (man, this has gotten to be a long story)

As I knew would happen, we were not even close to full from the omelet so I mentioned the possibility of dessert and Lori and I hastily agreed that it should be sooner rather than later. I paused the show we were watching and headed for the kitchen.

Now let it be said that I have used shaky pancake mix hundreds of times over the years. I could prepare it with my eyes closed, and funny I should say that because………wait I’m getting this out of order. So, I measured the water into the little plastic container that held the magic powder that soon would be our most excellent dessert, screwed the top back on and started to shake it up.

I want to be clear about the fact that I haven’t used shaky pancake mix for some time but what could go wrong? Never ask that question. Never, no matter the circumstance.

I’m not sure if I used warm water instead of cold water or if I shook it extra hard or if I screwed the lid on way too tight. It remains, to this very day, today……..from last night……..a complete mystery.

A complete mystery why that shaky pancake container, just like all the other shaky pancake containers I had shook over the years, exploded.

Yup, this is finally the explosion part. And boy did it ever. I really didn’t see it coming or really see much directly after it happening because it filled both my eyes with that shaky pancake mix. I mean it closed them tight and there I stood in the middle of the kitchen unable to see, still holding the shaky pancake mix container in my hands, still tasting the taste of slightly crunchy, well-buttered pancakes in the mouth in my mind but something had gone irreversibly wrong.

There have been many times in Lori and my married life that I have been very happy that I did not live alone, this was most certainly one of them. I mean, I can handle most catastrophes that happen around the house but there I stood, in the middle of the kitchen, shaky pancake mix container in my hands and I was blind. Like completely blind.


Opening my eyes only worsened the problem and, in case you were wondering, made my eyes sting that much more. One of the wonderous things about how God made our eyes are their ability to keep themselves clean. Now I believe that God is all knowing and all seeing but I’m not sure he ever thought about the possibility of the catastrophic incident that I now found myself part of because my eyes weren’t doing a thing to clean themselves out. Not a thing.

There I stood, wanting nothing more than a simple dessert of pancakes, shaky pancake mix container in my hands and my eyes completely useless. I calmly called Lori who was still in the living room. I know I called her calmly because she actually remarked about that later. The sight she was faced with as she calmly ambled into the kitchen caught her completely unaware because of how calmly I had called my beloved’s name. She was not prepared for what she saw.

I know she was not prepared because of the way she started laughing so abruptly. I’m not sure if I reasoned that out then or if I am just now coming to this conclusion but at this point in time I can assure you she was not ready for what she saw.

It would have been so much simpler, and I certainly would have taken one for the team, if it had only exploded in my face but no, it was an equal opportunity explosion. We may still find pancake batter somewhere in our kitchen for quite some time to come. I know I was still finding dried shaky pancake mix batter in my hair hours later. It also complicated the whole rescue operation for Lori to transport me to the sink to wash out my eyes. A small amount of slipping and sliding were involved but absolutely no falling. Lori is pretty good at the rescue thing.

Things could be so much calmer in our house if only…………well…..nobody lived here? I don’t know but what I do know is that french toast is almost as good as shaky pancakes and there’s nothing to shake and absolutely nothing explodes.

The Explosion

Finding a job in the late seventies, when I first got out of high school, wasn’t difficult. Especially if you were looking for an unskilled minimum wage job. I had worked in restaurants since I was too young to work, but I wasn’t too hot on the restaurant business. I’d had my fill, you might say.

I went through a long list of jobs in a short span of time. I really didn’t see much sense in staying anyplace I didn’t like, jobs were everywhere and I usually had another one by the time I got home from quitting the one I started with in the morning. Looking back, that probably was not the ideal way to look at a career but then, I wasn’t looking for a career. I just needed a job.

Before long, I ended up working at a Sears store. It was coming up on Christmas time and they needed someone to assemble bicycles. We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, so all but one of the bicycles I ever had as a kid were pieced and parted together. Plus, we were always trading parts back and forth, so this was a job I knew a little about and I put a lot of bicycles together that year.

I guess I did a good job, because, after Christmas, they offered me a job in the Display Department. That was great by me because you got to build things and decorate for all the different holidays. I loved it and I worked with good people. They were a quirky bunch but they were good people.

One of the things we did on a regular basis was to pile into a big old green box truck that had been retired at least once but because we were the display department and didn’t need it for much that was big and heavy, we inherited Big Green. It wasn’t the normal Sears green, although I’m sure it started out that way. But Big Green had seen better days and what paint wasn’t scraped off or covered with screwed on sheet metal, was certainly faded way past the normal Sears green.

The fact that we got the hand me down, mostly dead and dying Big Green, wasn’t lost on us and I must admit we probably did not treat that big old dinosaur with any of the respect it was due, if only for surviving as long as it had. It had been beaten and battered long before it ever made its way to the Display Department and we certainly saw no reason to change its fate at such a late date.

I had never driven a big box truck before. I’d driven cars and pickups since I was old enough to sit on my Dad’s lap and steer, but this big old monster was well beyond anything I had tackled before.

One of the people I worked with was a fireman named Gary that had probably spent way too long running into buildings that citizens were running out of. There was nothing especially wrong with Gary, he just had probably seen too much scary stuff and so he spent the time that he wasn’t fighting fires, being happy. He pretty much was either smiling or making other people smile. And then there were the practical jokes but they ran rampant in the Display Department anyway.

I was always up to get out of the store and ride to the warehouse where a lot of our supplies were stored. Gary felt about the same, so he and I were often the ones sent. Gary had driven fire trucks, so Big Green was nothing to him. He realized I never offered to drive and figured out I had never driven anything that big, so of course, he set out to change that.

It really wasn’t long until he had me weaving my way through Pinellas County traffic in Big Green like a rock star. Well, maybe not quite like a rock star but I never hit another car or caused any damage. Well, until the explosion.

Gary had this trick he did that I thought was funny and would scare the snot out of the people around us in traffic. He would push in the clutch, shut off the ignition, pump the gas a few times, turn the ignition back on and then pop the clutch. The result was some, quite excellent, backfires. Excellent for us, terrifying for the surrounding drivers, but it woke them up and they were paying much better attention to their surroundings after we were done with them.

To be honest, I kind of looked up to Gary. I mean, he was a fireman, he was crazy, and he taught me how to drive this big old truck.

One day, I was driving and Gary was riding and he told me to make it backfire. I’m not sure if he had spotted an especially ripe target or he was just bored or both. Turns out, I wasn’t so hot at doing the whole backfire thing. I’m not sure exactly why, probably just didn’t have my timing down quite right but whatever the reason, I was not yet proficient.

I tried a couple times but I was having an especially bad day of it and Gary thought that was very funny. I was getting frustrated and probably a little embarrassed, but whichever got the best of me, I finally asked him, quite loudly, I’m sure, what in the …….heck, was I doing wrong? That just made him laugh more.

I quit trying and we rode on down the road. Then he looked at me and told me to make it backfire again. I told him I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I should have noticed that he wasn’t exactly laughing anymore, that he still had a big smile on his face and a kind of twinkle in his eye. I should have noticed those things, but I didn’t.

He said, “You’re just not pumping the gas enough.” I should have figured it out but, I was young and I had reached that perfect point of frustration that meant, I was going to show him I could backfire with the best of them. All those times I had tried and failed and he had laughed because I wasn’t coordinated enough to do what he could do without even half trying. I should have noticed that extra twinkle in his eye, but I didn’t.

I waited until we were headed down a little incline and I pushed in the clutch, turned off the ignition and pumped that gas pedal for all I was worth, turned the ignition back on and popped the clutch.

Now, I didn’t see any flames or even a flash but I did see the looks on the faces of the drivers around us in traffic. There were so many stark white faces that it was a little like an instantaneous snowstorm had come out of nowhere right in the middle of that hot summer day. Of course, I didn’t think all this then, I didn’t think about much of anything, directly after the explosion.

I know that the truck did not literally raise up off its wheels, I know that, I do, but it sure felt like it. I had popped the clutch and the noise that came from under Big Green was like no other backfire I had ever heard. I was proud, I was. Until I noticed the noises that came after the initial explosion. I say explosion because it was more than just a backfire, it was more than any backfire Gary had ever created. It was the kind of noise that seems to suck all the other noises right out of the air. Like a huge vacuum, like being in outer space, like sitting directly on top of an explosion.

The part I couldn’t figure out right away was all the other noises that happened after the explosion. There was bumping and scraping and grinding noises. And the most interesting part was that those noises, the ones after the explosion, weren’t stopping. They were continuing on, chasing us down the road like a…………..well, like an entire exhaust system from a big old mean nasty green Sears truck. And then there were no more noises, well except for the fact that the truck was quite a bit louder now than it had been before the explosion. I guess I hadn’t noticed up until then because of all the other noises and how your ears kind of feel like there’s too much air in them right after you’ve been way too close to an explosion.

That’s about when  I looked in the mirrors and noticed there were no cars behind us for quite a ways. At first I thought it was because we had scared them off, you know, with the explosion, but then I saw it, the entire exhaust system from a big old nasty green Sears truck laying across the lane quite a ways behind us, in fact just about the same distance as the first vehicle I could see behind us. I was never quite sure whether that first vehicle behind us had actually hit that entire exhaust system from a big old nasty green Sears truck, but I do know it stopped.

I looked over at Gary and he was doubled over in his seat holding his stomach, at first I thought he was injured, you know, from the explosion but then I realized he was laughing, but he wasn’t making any sound. Then I noticed the tears on his face. He saw me looking at him and I’m not sure what kind of look I had on my face, but it just made him laugh harder. I was concerned about the vehicle in the mirror and I asked Gary if we should stop or go back, but he just shook his head from side to side and laughed. His face was beet red, his eyes were bloodshot and I think the front of his pants might have been a little wet but he kept shaking his head from side to side, so I took that as a “no” and drove on.

It wasn’t long before the traffic was all around us again, almost as if nothing had happened at all. But I knew something had happened and Gary knew something had happened and I’m pretty sure that vehicle back there, that I could no longer see in the mirrors, knew something had happened.

We had returned some things to the warehouse and had been on our way back when the explosion happened. We coasted into the parking lot behind the Sears store and slowly got out and started for the loading dock. No one had seemed to notice how much louder the truck was. No one seemed to notice us at all. I felt a little let down for some reason but Gary hadn’t completely recovered, so I knew it had really happened. As we walked along he put his arm across my shoulders and said, “Nice backfire, kid.” I told him, “that was no backfire, that was an explosion!” He started up laughing again and headed for the restroom.