Once the food in your refrigerator becomes self aware, no one is safe

People often get us confused because we look so much alike, but Sean is on the right.
People often get us confused because we look so much alike, but Sean is on the right.
As a tribute to my friend and fellow firefighter who is officially retiring today after 25 years, I’d like to offer this story from a few years ago as a testament to his bravery, dedication and complete lack of refrigerator cleanliness skills. Though I’ll miss having him on the nozzle when the flames are showing, I find comfort knowing he can turn his attention to serving the community in other ways, such as cleaning out his fridge more often to prevent another attack from self-aware gravy.

Thank you for your service, your mentorship and for being my friend.

But seriously, Sean — you really need to watch it with the food spores…


Admittedly, the closest I have been to an actual military “hot zone” was when, on a grey August day in 1977, my Cub Scout troop was deployed to sell candy on the same block as the Girl Scouts. Our prime objective was Hilltop Road, which was a critical strategic vector. At least in terms of foot traffic. Because our troop transport had overheated in the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru, the Girl Scouts had already claimed the high ground next to a busy movie theater. Outnumbered and without tactical advantage, we implemented our most effective defensive strategy, which was to form a tight perimeter directly behind 220-pound Billy Schlependorf.

This quickly turned to chaos as we were overrun by a swarm of red berets and knee-highs, forcing us to retreat in a hail of Thin Mints and stale marshmallows. The last thing I remember was stepping on a well-thrown “ants-on-a-log” that sent me headfirst into a three-foot-tall Darth Vader waiting in line to see Star Wars.

So, because of this common bond of courage under fire, it was no surprise when my friend, who is a fellow firefighter and a soldier with two tours in Iraq, confided in me that he had recently been attacked in his own kitchen — by leftover Thanksgiving gravy.

Let me set the scene:


That’s right. According to my friend, who asked not to be named, and who I will respectfully refer to only as “Sean” or “Sgt. Connor” but never as “Sgt. Sean Connor,” the gravy boat in question had been in the back of his refrigerator waiting to ambush him since last November.

This is not uncommon. I actually have a Tupperwear dish with guacamole from Cinco De Mayo 2001 that became self-aware in 2009, and who I now claim on my tax return as an 11-year-old Mexican exchange student named Guaca Jole Mole.

I have never been attacked by Guaca. But if that ever happens, trust me: He’s out of there.

Anyway, getting back to The Great Gravy Ambush …

While reaching for what I’m sure was a healthy snack of carrot sticks or high-fiber yogurt, “Sean’s” fingers came into contact with the enemy, in the form of a harmless gravy boat filled with what he called a “dark brown, meteorite-like substance.”

Yes, for a firefighter, he has very feminine hands.
Yes, for a firefighter, he has very feminine hands.

Being a take-charge kind of guy, and due to his reflexive hand-to-hand combat training — and because his wife had asked him to clean out the gravy boat 10 months ago — he instinctively grabbed a butter knife and plunged it into what he described in technical combat terms as a “dried gravy crevasse.”

It was in that moment, while locked in a struggle to dislodge the rock-like gravy, that he cut his finger on the razor-like edge of the crevasse as he forced it down the garbage disposal. Showing no mercy, he started the disposal and immediately came under heavy fire from “gravy shrapnel” flying across the kitchen. Dropping into a low-crawl, he assessed his “tactical situation,” and concluded that if the new kitchen cabinets got scratched by flying gravy debris, he should probably just keep crawling onto a busy highway.

But this is a man who has led other men into battle!

[begin exciting slow-motion action sequence]:

Crouched on the floor, he took a deep breath and dove toward the countertop, gravy shrapnel whizzing past him as he simultaneously — and in mid air — scanned the row of switches. Spotting the disposal switch, he slammed his injured finger down on it, effectively taking out the enemy.

Ok, so the first switch was actually the kitchen fan.

…Then the sink light.

…Then the pantry light.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how many switches it took; all that matters is that the disposal switch is now painted RED.


With Thanksgiving less than two months away, I hope “Sean’s” story will help prevent others from falling victim to a similar type of gravy ambush.

And hey — Don’t even get me started on Girl Scout and their cookies.


(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

33 thoughts on “Once the food in your refrigerator becomes self aware, no one is safe”

  1. The things we fear are those which are in our mind. Possession is nine tenths the law and I do possess your mind. Your zombie world is really my playing with your mind in a giant chess game and you are out of pawns for the barbie.

  2. I would like to thank the anonymous Sgt. Sean Connor for watching you for all those years. Still, I have to wonder, not to question his courage, but why did he cut and run, leaving us without a minder for you?

  3. YAY!
    Love friend tributes 🙂
    Congrats to your bud and many wishes for a happy retirement devoid of self-aware food and bacteria with a zip code.
    (There must be a theme…I’ve been battling an unknown self-aware source in my own kitchen.)
    This made me laugh out loud and happy all over. What would this world be without our fantastic friends.

  4. LOL Too funny. I’m glad I found your blog because chuckles and guffaws and belly laughs are not nearly as prevalent as they should be with election season on the horizon!

    Seriously, my sincerest thank you and admiration to you, Sean, and first responders and military personnel everywhere. You are always in my prayers, and not a day goes by that I don’t send gratitude for your service, your courage and your sacrifices.

  5. Did Sgt. Sean Connor learn his lesson? When caught between a rock and a bowl of petrified gravy, put them both in the garden and let the raccoons sort it out.

      1. Were he my husband who didn’t listen and got mauled by gravy…no, nevermind. I’d be flat on my ass laughing til I cried had I been witness to that scene.

          1. Too bad indeed. He could have had his viral video and supplemented his retirement income through per-click ad revenue.

  6. You so entertain me, Ned. I love both stories. I can picture everything, even without the video loop and the photos. You are such a talent. Your second adoring fan in Florida. Lucy

  7. I just received an invitation from my sister to join her family for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the second consecutive invitation she’s extended, due in large part, I must assume, to my good behavior last year. Now that I’ve learned the phrase “gravy shrapnel,” I don’t see how I’ll be able to resist creating a situation that allows me to use it. So much for Year 3. Thanks a lot, Ned.

  8. Ha! This was absolutely great! And your clever title, ironically goes perfectly as a caption to one of my photos that I just put into my own post! Google, “How To Guarantee Your Kids Will Get Into Therapy, Huff Post” and scroll down to the refrigerator pic.
    ps. I want so much to get you started on Thin Mints. We have boxes leftover still!

    1. Leftover Thin Mints? You TEMPTRESS!
      So glad you enjoyed the post, Stephanie. I have to say, your Mashed Potato and Pulled Pork Sundae will be making an appearance on our dinner table very soon! Just as soon as I find a good therapist for the kids.

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