I had a very short shift scheduled. Two hours starting at 9 PM, do the cafe’s inventory then head home to bed. It’d been a busy day so I was looking forward to eleven so that I could go home and sleep. The inventory went smoothly, Edwin and I are a good team and can get the three to four-hour job of counting everything done in an hour and a half and it’s never takes me longer then half an hour to calculate everything so that it makes since to our boss when she goes to put it in the system. It was when I was calculating my numbers that we first smelled it. Burning plastic? It was a horrible smell. But our store has a lot of ovens so on occasion things will get left on something that is hot and melt. We didn’t think anything of it beyond normal curiosity.
As we were leaving to clock out Edwin and I began to realize that the smell was coming from my department. Since the deli was closed, everyone but me gone I got my first inkling of worry. Without a word, we turned into the deli and began to search for the cause of the smell. Nothing hot was on, but the smell was so strong our eyes were watering. After a long search we gave up and headed toward the time clock once again. We walked past the cheese wall (a long cold wall in the deli we display our cheeses on) only to find that the smell was somehow even more overpowering.
Now it’s not uncommon to see steam come off the cold wall, however this time we had a feeling that what was wisping out was not steam. We quickly began to pull the cheese out from that area trying to find the source. Then there it was. An outlet set in wall to plug lights into was on longer white and perfectly round, it was instead black, melted and unrecognizable. The power has been going out a lot lately, sending power surges around the store. It had already fried two computers. We figured that it had done the same to this outlet. Quickly we grabbed the ASM Angie and thus began one of the longest nights ever.
To make a very LONG story short, no one we talked to on the phone thought it was serious, convinced it could wait until morning. That is until the spark, the fire that shot out of the wall and the yellowish orange light that suddenly appeared behind the wall. Still want us to wait until morning to call anyone in? We stopped listening to the people on the phone right about then. Angie pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the customers, most of which thought was just a drill until the fire truck appeared. Turns out one of the customers is a fire fighter who radioed in our location immediately.
The next hour was spent with the night crew as we pulled the food off the entire wall while Angie continued to try to get a hold of people. Thankfully Sally with the key to get into the breaker room picked up her phone and rushed over. The fire was out, a bunch of wires were cut, and a mini disaster looked to have hit the deli by 2am. By now my boss is here and a big boss has arrived and no one could find the key to turn off the fire alarm. It’s not till three am that one of the thousands of keys we checked lets us silent it. By now even with the alarm off we are having to yell because even after the ringing in our heads stopped it still sounded like every one was talking from a great distance.
Finally the election arrived. He had already worked over 80 hours and you could tell he was no longer really there. On top of that he was getting sick and had this horrible barking cough that he never covered his mouth for. He cursed the damage the fire fighters did to the wiring and panels before doing his job and turning the power back on to the area. He tells us everything looks and sounds good before leaving. My boss then declares that this is a holiday (Labor Day) and that the wall must be put back together by six AM, so I sit in the office and watch the temperature computer waiting for the wall to stop throwing warnings. It doesn’t. Finally I stumbled over there only to find the wall is way to quiet. I curse. The fans have stopped working. Boss is on the phone with the electric company yelling about them coming back now and of course the wall sounded fine, it was silent. He came back, fixed the fans and now we had to wait for the walls temp to drop from 75°F to below 40.
Sally, my boss and I decide now would be a great time for a lunch break so we clock out for lunch and stop by Walgreens for a Red Bull then head out to Denny’s where Sally and I laughed and took pictures of my poor boss who fell asleep in the corner.
I spent the rest of the morning putting the case wall back together.Clocking out at 9am exactly 12 hours after I had clocked in and over 25 hours since I had woken up. I told my boss as I was walking out that I’m calling in for my 10 am shift. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.