Adventures with Carbon Monoxide
or the lack thereof...

Went into work as usual this evening, ready for another day of delivering piping hot grease in a cardboard box. Monday nights are always rather slow, and tonight was no exception, we were taking maybe eight delivery orders an hour, to be divided between seven drivers. It was a horrible waste of the company's labor money, but the manager that was present didn't have the authority to cut people loose for the night.

All of the cleaning chores were finished in thirty minutes or so, leaving all of us hippies, burnouts, stoners, ravers, and sundry other delivery driver riffraff to our own devices. There was the usual random conversation and bitching about the management, a few people made food for themselves, others read the paper. I mostly paced around the store aimlessly, trying to find some piece of it that I hadn't explored in excruciating detail during one of the other thousand times I've been bored at work.

After a while, I noticed an unmarked light switch on the wall. Hmm ... doesn't go to the store lights, or the bathroom, or the closet, and the oven's on a separate circuit ... where does it go? I set out to solve the mystery the easiest way possible. Click! Nothing happens. Odd, wonder what that means? Click! Click! Click!Click!Click! Even less happens. Sensing that my approach is doomed to failure, I ask the manager what this switch does, giving it an extra couple of clicks for emphasis.

"Oh," he says, "that's the exhaust fan for the oven. Having it on helps us not die of carbon monoxide poisoning." Aha! A new factoid for my internal database of useless restaurant trivia. What's more, a similar switch is probably present in any restaurant with an industrial oven, leading to a potential way an evil person could unleash anarchy on an unsuspecting eatery. I resolve to myself to mention the switch in an e2 writeup at some later date. Not too much later a delivery is up for me to take (my second one of the day after having been at work two hours, woohoo!), so I grab it and head out the door.

When I get back, the restaurant is filled with a troublingly foul reek, somewhere between melting plastic and burning hair. All of the employees are sitting in front of the building, and we have stopped taking orders of any kind. Oops, I think. Like a good little delinquent, I don't mention my earlier investigation of the switch, and it seems to have slipped the manager's mind in the evacuation chaos. He doesn't seem to be worried that the smell might just indicate the presence of CO, and carries on shutting down the computers and turning off the oven. Outside, we're making jokes about how few brain cells he's going to have left, and deciding who will go in and drag him out if he stays silent too long.

Before the GM arrives, a plumbing/heating/electrical repair man (PROUD TO BE UNION, as his bumper sticker says) arrives, and climbs up onto the roof to see what's up. It turns out the air intake fan burnt out, and the exhaust is still working fine. Damn. Back to work. Or at least it would have been if the GM hadn't shown up right then, and let half of us off since the dinnertime rush was over. Thus, I'm out of that shithole two hours early so I can come back and node the adventure. Score!