Tag Archives: incinerator

Where’s the Kaboom?

In an earlier blog post I referenced an incident of some hilarity that took place when my buddy Pedro and I were emptying my then-girlfriend’s apartment on Staten Island about 30 years ago.

We were working long into the night/early into the morning to get the task done so by the next day, I think it’s safe to say were both a little punchy and perhaps not each thinking very clearly.

I was busy sorting through books and other possessions, when Pedro came into the living room with an armload of spray and aerosol cans.

Him: “What should I do with these?”

Me: (Distracted and not paying enough attention, with a dismissive wave of my hand): “Oh, just throw them away.”

So he did.

I should pause to mention here that this was 30 years ago and that the apartment building at the time still burned its trash using an incinerator. Burning garbage was a common practice back in the day before concerns about the ash and pollution caused buildings to convert to trash compactors.

Within a few minutes, Pedro returned, as a white as the Easter Bunny.

“Dude!” (I’m not sure if we called each other “dude” back then but literary license allows me here…) “I threw that shit down the shaft and there was like this fireball! The force of the fire caused the garbage door to blow back open!”

This was really a rather remarkable feat considering that the blowback rose all the way up to the SIXTH FREAKIN’ FLOOR where we were.

Ever seen the “Wheep Wow” baking scene from the “Little Rascals”? Yeah it was a bit like that.

I went out to the hallway, and sure enough, there was soot all around the incinerator door. I assured him that yes, holy Christ!, there did appear to be an explosion of some kind, but that the worst was behind us and not to worry.

And then we heard the sirens. The unmistakable sound of FDNY fire truck sirens. Getting very, very close.

Since we were up on the top floor of the building, immediately over our heads was the roof. In short order, we could hear the crunching of footsteps on the roof’s gravel and the crackle of the firefighters’ two-way radios.

You know how when you are drunk, you react in ways that make no sense? Well, in our state of panic and punchiness, we decided we needed to be very quiet and not call attention to our presence in the apartment, lest we get in trouble. Not that that made any sense since it’s unlikely they would have heard us but that was our remedy at the moment.

The firefighters eventually left and we returned to our work.

As for the remaining cleansers and aerosol cans, I cannot say for certain what we did with them, but after nearly getting his eyebrows singed, I’m pretty sure Pedro didn’t chuck anymore down the incinerator.