Let Inga Tell You: Talk about a bug in the system!

Inga's stove panel mysteriously began lighting up with bake cycles she had never used.

I recently recounted the saga of the untimely crumping of our stove in March during a time when neither repair people nor appliance installers would set foot into your home because of the coronavirus.

After many stoveless weeks, we were ultimately able to incentivize someone to install a new oven switch panel and were reprieved from crockpot cuisine. It was especially important to have an oven for my husband, whose retirement passion had become sourdough baking.

A mere two weeks later, the Thursday night before the Memorial Day weekend, we were just finishing a late (8:45) dinner when I heard what sounded like the Beep of Death coming from the stove. Uh-oh! When our stove panel shorted out in March, it beeped intermittently around the clock and drove me so crazy that I would have taken a sledgehammer to the stove if we owned one. Unfortunately, the stove is on the same circuit breaker as other kitchen appliances, most notably the refrigerator, so flipping it off was not an option.

Upon inspection, the stove display panel had mysteriously lit up and was querying if I wanted to do a convection bake. I have never done a convection bake, ever. I turned off the oven, but seconds later, it lit back up with a new message: Did I want to do a timed bake with meat? (Another setting I have never ever used.) Every time I turned off the oven, a new message would pop up seconds later. Then, terrifyingly, the broiler started to crank up to 500 degrees. It was like a poltergeist had taken possession of this machine.

It couldn’t have been worse timing. The grandchildren — whom we had not seen since Christmas — were coming the next day for the three-day holiday weekend. Some $300 of comestibles had just been purchased that day. So flipping the kitchen circuit breaker was really low on my list.

Not knowing what else to do, I started taking pictures of each new message on the display panel to document this issue for a repair person and/or an exorcist. I was in a total state of panic.

As I was snapping pictures, I thought I detected something moving inside the electronic panel. A flashlight revealed that it was a large bug — a roach? — running back and forth inside the glass. All I could think of that was this stupid insect was going to short out my brand-new $500 oven switch panel and potentially burn down my house by keeping the oven on continuous broil.

Now, you’re probably wondering where my nuclear physics-trained, Caltech-educated engineer husband was during all this.

“Olof!” I cried, “what are we going to do? We can’t have the oven on broil all night!” He shrugged, poured himself an after-dinner Scotch, then went to watch sourdough English muffin videos on YouTube. He was branching into raisin varieties.

I reflected that our 25th anniversary was the next week. Would there be a 26th? #notlikely.

Some 10 minutes and 12 messages after it had all started, the oven turn-ons abruptly stopped. I think the bug finally found its way out of the switch panel. Or fried itself on the broil setting.

Now, I will have to confess that in the two weeks leading up to this episode I had, for the first time ever, seen a few roach-like creatures in my kitchen if I went in there late at night.

I did have a neighbor (Neighbor A) who had a serious roach problem a few years ago. The city had put some irrigation pipes on the setback on their property, which seemed to have created a massive creepy underground roach colony whose residents were regularly invading the home. A city crew finally came out to clear the sewer lines (and hopefully the roaches) by blasting water at very high velocity from the manhole in front of the home of a neighbor (Neighbor B) across the street.

It was an epic fail. Fortunately no one was sitting on a commode in Neighbor B’s house when a geyser of high-pressure water blew through the toilets all the way up to the ceiling, creating — besides utter life-altering terror in the residents — a giant sewer-eal mess. The city was very nice about cleaning it all up, but these neighbors now require that they be notified if city water crews do anything in that manhole involving sewer maintenance.

When I called Neighbor A on May 22, it turned out that they had been seeing some roaches recently, but fortunately only outside. We collectively engaged a pest control service to smite the little buggers.

Meanwhile, I am contemplating forming a PTSD support group with Neighbors A and B, plus Neighbor C, who last year had a colony of raccoons living under her house trying to claw their way through the floor at 3 a.m.

Who knew La Jolla was such a scary place?

— Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at ◆