In which Randolph almost dies by misadventure with a microwave

It has been said that I am the luckiest person I know, not least because I keep avoiding death by misadventure. At times I feel like Devon Sawa in Final Destination.

One evening in November 2017, my lovely husband made dinner as usual, before going off to work at the hospital. It was chicken, and for some reason this time it did not cook all the way through, so I put it in the microwave.

Unfortunately I didn’t cover the plate, so when the chicken exploded, red sauce went everywhere. It wasn’t pretty.

Eventually I got bored, and as history tells us, if Randolph gets bored there should be an adult in the room to supervise. My adult had gone to work the late shift, so I was once again alone at home with a bad idea in my head.

See, the red sauce had hardened in the microwave, and I had already spent twenty minutes scrubbing it and thinking “there has to be an easier way”. Cue the Internet, and me searching “how to clean a microwave oven”.

After appropriate research, cross-referencing various solutions with what I had in the house, I decided to boil soapy water in the microwave so that the steam would loosen the mess and it would be a simple matter of wiping it away.

Things did not go as planned.

What transpired is as follows. I found a glass container, half-filled it with water, put in dishwashing liquid per the instructions I found online, stuck that in the microwave, turned on the timer, and sat watching it through the door. As with other electronic devices, I’m fascinated by how things work. I wanted to see water boil in the glass container, and then see how the steam permeated the chamber to make my cleaning job easier.

My mistake was using a Pyrex container. I chose it because it’s microwave safe and transparent. Coincidentally I also know about superheated fluids, so I specifically remember thinking that the liquid soap I used would be sufficient to disrupt the water molecules enough that they would boil.

[Narrator: it was not sufficient.]

I was in front of the under-counter microwave oven, watching water boil (or not, as the case may be). My dog Trixie was with me, and she came over to me as she always does when I’m crouched down, and tried to climb onto my lap. I turned my head to look at her, and when I did, the microwave exploded.

Here’s where my luck comes in. Yes I readily admit that I blew up a microwave oven. However, being an under-counter model, it used a drawer instead of a swing door, so while the force of the explosion opened the drawer and killed the motor, I did not get hit in the head with a microwave door. Additionally, the superheated water had to go somewhere, but because it was a drawer, the water went up and sideways, not down and into my face. Trixie was also unharmed.

The sound was exceptionally loud given my proximity to the explosion, and I made a noise similar to the one I made when a rain spider walked over my hand. Trixie has been trained to get out of my way if I say “move”, and along with loud hand-clapping she will exit the scene pronto. I employed this technique to get her away from the immediate area so that I could investigate the damage.

My first instinct once rational thought took over was to turn off the kitchen breaker on the electrical panel. Then I surveyed the damage. It is a testament to my rational mind that I did not take any photos while this was all happening.

The water was easy enough to mop up. While it had managed to hit the ceiling, I was done in a minute or two. There was no broken glass; even the Pyrex container was undamaged (as it should be, given its resistance to thermal shock). Some water still remained in the bowl. Using an oven mitt, I removed it from the microwave oven and put it in the sink to cool down. I then set about mopping up the water in the microwave oven.

The good news (if one can call it that) is that the explosion actually worked “as intended”. It was a simple matter to take a damp cloth and clean the inside where dinner had been splattered.

After a friend came to help me remove the oven, we found an old man in an electronics repair store who repaired the oven to full working order. He had to replace the motor for the drawer mechanism which meant ordering in the parts. After replacing the motor and drying out the internals it was ready in two days. I gladly handed over payment, which I called “stupidity tax”, took the microwave home, and then we sold the house a few months later.

(Note: in one of my tweets in the thread that followed, I said I used vinegar and water, but it was definitely liquid soap.)