The following story was shared by John Mark Gaddis, the original owner of the college microwave, & Kevin Propes, John’s roommate. John’s side of the story first, then Kevin’s. This story is absolutely hilarious. Enjoy.
John’s tale (John and his boys, 2008):
Let’s not forget that this is the microwave that nearly burnt down North Hall in ‘94-95. Please allow me to tell…one beautiful day I decided to reheat some Lee’s Famous Recipe leftovers in the microwave. Inside this box of chicken was corn on the cob surrounded by a decorated paper wrap; however, the inner lining of the wrapper consisted of a dangerous element when heated in a microwave…aluminum foil.
After I noticed a flicker in my microwave I rushed to open the door and found a flame coming out of the box. I quickly grabbed the box and realized that I couldn’t throw it outside because of my stereo speakers blocking the window. I carried the flaming box into the hallway searching for a place to discard. The faster i moved, the taller and hotter the flame grew (~1-2 ft tall).
I eventually made it down the hallway and outside where I stomped the flame out on the sidewalk. I was not injured but quite shaken-up. A little while later my roommate (Kevin Propes) returned to our hallway in the dorm and said, “what is that burning smell and please tell me that it is not coming from my room!”
Ah yes, the secret of a lasting microwave is to have it fire-tested through dorm-life.
The best story about that microwave happened in the Fall of 1994 in Room 108 of North Hall where John and I spent our freshman year as roommates. John put a corn on the cob from Lee’s chicken in the microwave with the plastic wrap still attached to the cob. It caught on fire. I wasn’t there, but I walked in the back door to North Hall 2 minutes after it happened.
I thought I smelled something burnt, but didn’t think much of it, since the guys next door to us regularly smoked…cigarettes, and no telling what else. ANYWAY…the door to 108 was propped open, which was a custom back then because everyone kept their doors propped open…and there stood John…out of breath, and looking a little spooked. I was like, “Hey man…do you smell something burning?” He said, “Yea…I just had a fire in the microwave.”
John had looked in…saw the fire…opened the microwave…grabbed the food with the corn…ran all of the way down to the end of the hall…and threw it somewhere…the trashcan, or outside, or somewhere. Had I walked into the back door to North Hall just 2 minutes earlier, John would have been running towards me with a flaming cob of corn.