Am I an incompetent human being
August 17, 2018 2:22 AM   Subscribe

I just almost accidentally started a kitchen fire and I’m wondering how far out of the norm this is.

I wanted to use the timer on the microwave but instead I turned it on with nothing inside and didn’t notice it was running. About five minutes later this was pointed out to me. Microwave is likely broken and smells slightly of smoke, this was definitely unsafe. It’s now unplugged and moved. But I do this sort of thing every so often and I don’t know how to feel about it. Do I need medical help? Do I need to never cook again? WTF, brain? Or is this the kind of thing that just happens every so often to most people?

I’d say it’s about once a year or once every two years that I make this kind of mistake: leave the oven on overnight, leave a burner on low instead of turning it off, something like that. I’ve only set something on fire in the kitchen once and it was in a different context while actively cooking many years ago.

I am currently effectively medicated for anxiety.

I hold a job in which I don’t forget things most of the time. I have systems in place to stay organized at work.

I have managed to keep children alive and safe for several years while managing a complex and stressful family schedule.

It seems like the kitchen is the only place I mess up.

I meditate for stress reduction several times a week.

I don’t really get enough sleep.

How big a deal is this? Should I seek medical attention? Should I stay out of the kitchen?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (58 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like a symptom of your anxiety. Three practical suggestions:

1. Change your occasional meditation practice to a consistently mindful approach to everything. Before you do things, stop, breathe, and say to yourself* "I'm going to set the timer." "I am finishing up after cooking."

2. Add a kitchen/home sweep to your bedtime routine (see 3). Turn things off, lock doors, set the coffee for the morning, etc.

3. Develop a proper, consistent bedtime routine so you get more sleep.

*I usually say it out loud. People look at me funny but it works for me so I don't care.
posted by headnsouth at 2:34 AM on August 17, 2018 [10 favorites]

I’d say it’s about once a year or once every two years that I make this kind of mistake.

Hello, it me!
I've done something like this twice in the last 6 months. Pregnancy brain is real y'all. We have a double oven set up and just last week, I basically pre-heated the top oven when the chicken was in the bottom oven and my husband pointed that out like an hour later.

However, I do note your anxiety around this behaviour and it's good you've flagged your feelings before you start fixating an unhealthy amount.
posted by like_neon at 2:38 AM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

once a year or once every two years that I make this kind of mistake.

Seems normal. We came home yesterday and my partner had left a gas burner on all day.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:42 AM on August 17, 2018 [31 favorites]

Oh god yeah, leaving the burner on. Either my husband or myself have done that maybe once a year. It happens when we turn it on super low to keep the food warm and then we get so excited about eating we forget to turn it "off-off" until we go back to the kitchen and see a pan caked with burned food and a pot that has to soak for like 2 days. Our technique for dealing with this is to do a facepalm and soak the pan for 2 days. You're fine.
posted by like_neon at 2:42 AM on August 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Put it this way, it’s common enough that in my country, it’s law that every home has smoke detectors. That means that the government has decided that 100% of the population are capable of making the same mistake you did.
posted by Jubey at 2:46 AM on August 17, 2018 [56 favorites]

This sounds totally normal. You mess up in the kitchen because the kitchen is the primary place that you're performing complex multistep tasks under time pressure, and the tasks change every day. When you think of it like that, it's honestly a miracle that we don't all set our kitchens on fire every year. I strongly disagree that these incidents are symptomatic of your anxiety--I think that you worrying about them, instead of shrugging and moving on, is potentially related to your anxiety. These sound like the normal, reasonable lapses that everyone makes from time to time. Cut yourself some slack.
posted by mishafletch at 3:04 AM on August 17, 2018 [40 favorites]

I think you're pretty much like every one else on Earth. We all have lapses, and thank the gods most times no real harm is done. Just last week I was reheating some rice in my microwave. I didn't set it correctly and the kitchen filled with smoke. Awful choking smoke! No real harm done. It was exceedingly embarrassing because all the smoke detectors went off and the neighbors were screaming "are you alright?"

You're fine. Take a deep breath, relax. Do something nice for yourself.
posted by james33 at 3:24 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Sounds pretty normal. Night before last we had my birthday dinner here and despite there being no fewer than five adults in the house the gas oven got left on high after everyone went to bed. It was only by chance that I, the last person awake, caught it just before I too went upstairs to turn in.

Things like this happen. We all have absentminded moments. I can't even count the number of near misses I've had in my life, and I know of lots and lots of similar incidents by other people. It seems pretty normal, as we blunder our way through this world of machines that create fire and movement and electricity and invisible waves and smoke and chemicals, &c. that we occasionally manage to nearly do ourselves in. I see it as more of a problem with the world than anything else.

You're normal. You're fine. Be careful out there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:24 AM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Absolutely. We left the bread machine blade out resulting in a loaf of inedible dough this week, forgot to close the toaster oven for twenty minutes, burnt a batch of cookies because we were busy dancing to music, and I have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit available near the kitchen for those reasons. One of my kids is F&B trained and still makes stupid mistakes, I have been known to get lost in a book mid-cooking and let a pot boil dry.

I do find cooking a little less worrying with a google home in the kitchen so I can verbally set timers and reminders and have it annoy me until I go and check. But I'm on anxiety meds, and cooking disasters are something that just happen to anyone who cooks regularly. It's an acceptable level of risk and you're way below the going rate so you're probably a very safe cook already.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:27 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

This happens to me when I start multi-tasking without noticing, which also typically is in the kitchen. I have become better at identifying the internal feeling that goes together with this mode of activity. A step back, with the question "what am I ACTUALLY doing at this point" helps.
Then there's the checklist-method. Especially for switching off stuff before bedtime or after cooking or after any other defined moment: keep a three-to-five idem list, remind yourself to tick the boxes every time.

(Finally, as an aside since it doesn't directly answer your question, but still: relatively recent research has shown that it is really bad not to get enough sleep. Maybe worth considering what improvements can be achieved here... Anecdata: when our kids were small and it often was me who woke up first at night for [turning the mildly steaming baby around] attending to things, I got noticeably more forgetful for a period. There IS a connection somehow, I feel.)
posted by Namlit at 3:29 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Normal. Everybody does these kinds of things. I fairly often turn on the MW oven when I mean to set its timer. Fortunately for me, it makes noise when it goes on, and that alerts me that I pushed the wrong button.

Some appliances are inherently confusing. Stove burner knobs should have a clear visual indicator that they are not off. This should be easily seen from every part of the kitchen.

The only time I ever had an actual fire was due to a defective toaster oven. I believe this is fairly common; some authorities say to unplug them when not in use.

Do get a couple of fire extinguishers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:32 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Totally normal
posted by mkuhnell at 3:40 AM on August 17, 2018

Only yesterday I turned on the wrong hotplate at the back of the stove, then ten minutes later wondered why the kitchen smelled like overheated oil while the spaghetti pot was still making no noise at all.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your kitchen management that isn't also wrong with most people's. I do think that if you did start a fire in the kitchen, you'd notice in plenty of time to put it out safely.
posted by flabdablet at 3:42 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Normal. I am an organized person, I multitask well and I have a good memory. I cook almost daily . I have left the burner on, the oven on and boiled a pot or two dry.
And I consistently lose my phone at home (never out) The "Ping" option on my watch has been a godsend.
posted by ReiFlinx at 3:43 AM on August 17, 2018

Hello, yesterday I nearly crashed into someone because I wasn't alert enough at a junction, and then I drove significantly over the speed limit for a little while because I lost concentration. I spent a good ten minutes saying to myself WHY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO EVEN DRIVE, YOU'RE A MANIAC AND WILL VERY LIKELY SOON MURDER SOMEONE TO DEATH WITH YOUR CAR.

Anyway I have anxiety too and I think if these thoughts went on for too long I'd wonder if I was on top of it. As it is, today I'm feeling fine, although I will probably be a more safe driver than usual for a while :)
posted by greenish at 3:49 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

+1 on “it’s normal,” both in execution and frequency. Especially for anyone who’s overextended, which is basically everyone in today’s world. Be kind to yourself.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:53 AM on August 17, 2018

Another vote for totally normal. I'm the reason we have had to replace the microwave and cooking utensils. Spouse is the reason we have had to replace pans.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:08 AM on August 17, 2018

I find that when I'm really anxious, the attendant exhaustion is similar in a lot of respects to being grief stricken, which means I forget things, put stuff down and can't find it a minute later or I can lose basic reasoning skills and feel like an idiot at work.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:25 AM on August 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

Normal. My son in the military who in not anxious or anxiety ridden in any way, did this.

Note to self, no need to warm up the microwave.
posted by AugustWest at 4:26 AM on August 17, 2018

These are normal, common oversights occurring at a normal rate - I’ve melted the handle off a teakettle by boiling it dry for way too long. You may be disproportionately noticing kitchen errors because they’re potentially hazardous. Hitting “cook” instead of “timer” on the microwave is about as easy a mistake to make, and harder to catch in the moment, as typing in the URL of the website you’re already on, or reflexively saying “you too” when someone wishes you a happy birthday, but those don’t burn out microwaves or start fires.

It’s not a bad idea to create a oven-checking habit, e.g. as your last step before leaving the kitchen when you cook, as long as it doesn’t cross over into obsessive behavior (which is easy with anxiety).
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:38 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do get a couple of fire extinguishers.

We've covered "this is normal" by now, but I just want to reiterate this. Kitchen fires happen, whatever the cause, and you need to have a fire extinguisher available and accessible so they remain minor mishaps from which you can recover.

(We've lived in our house for about four and a half years now, and I have personally caused three fires in the kitchen and one on the grill; the only one that required the fire extinguisher was the grill, and I'm glad we had it, because it would have been disastrous otherwise.)
posted by uncleozzy at 4:40 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

How was this pointed out to you? In a nice way?

Asking because I do this too (make a minor mistake, then worry I'm suffering from brain worms or something equally dreadful) and it's preemptive--I expect someone else to get really angry at me, so I do it to myself first.

(And yes, the actual mistake is totally normal.)
posted by kingdead at 4:43 AM on August 17, 2018

About five minutes later this was pointed out to me. Microwave is likely broken and smells slightly of smoke, this was definitely unsafe.

Kind of tangential to your concern, but what kind of microwave is this that self-destructs after running for five minutes with nothing inside? This wouldn't even register on my list of dangerous things you can do in the kitchen, but maybe I'm missing something.
posted by each day we work at 4:47 AM on August 17, 2018 [23 favorites]

Monday I turned on the electric burner that still had the decorative burner cover over it instead of the one that actually had the pot on it. Smoke, smell, scorched burner cover. I’ve also left the house with candles burning. I consider these just normal events in the life of me.

You’re okay.
posted by kimberussell at 4:51 AM on August 17, 2018

I literally killed a microwave doing just the same thing you did, oh, like a month ago. It's pretty normal.

I think my best ever kitchen disaster was when I was making cheesy hot dogs under our stove's grill, and managed to set them on fire. Like, actual flames fire, but because they were under the grill I didn't notice till I slid them out to eat them, and whoosh - they got a nice big gust of fresh air and developed like, three foot flames fed by the generous amount of fat in the cheese and bacon I'd slathered on the dogs.

Fire blankets are great. Smoke detectors are also great. Fire extinguishers are great, but please a) learn to use one, and b) make sure it's checked regularly for pressure. They lose effectiveness over time.
posted by Jilder at 4:54 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

This year I cut through a copper gas pipe with an electric saw. How I didn't cause a spark and end up with a flamethrower pointed at my face I'll never know. And then, as gas rushed out to fill the room, I realised the doors were locked and I needed to go and find a key, and that I didn't know where I'd last seen the little plastic key to open the gas shut-off box...

Anyway, I survived that one, slightly shaken.

About once a year I do something so unbelievably stupid that I wonder how I ever made it to middle age.
posted by pipeski at 6:25 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I’d say it’s about once a year or once every two years that I make this kind of mistake

As someone with adhd, LOL....

I mean I know I'm not in the normal range so maybe I'm not a useful perspective, but I do stuff like this every few weeks and it would be more often if I weren't very careful about deliberately forming cautious habits like never walking away from the stove even for a second while it's on. Because I am way too likely to be distracted and completely forget I'm cooking. Have ruined multiple pans but no fires yet luckily.... I still cook, because you know, eating is important.

The microwave thing specifically doesn't even sound like forgetfulness, more like a normal accident.

You're fine.
posted by randomnity at 6:27 AM on August 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don’t really get enough sleep.

Also this is a huge factor for things like this, and while again, you seem well within the range of normal already, I bet it would happen way less often if you get enough sleep. Brains so badly need sleep to function properly.
posted by randomnity at 6:30 AM on August 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I leave the burners on my stove on low while we're eating dinner all the time. This is definitely normal! Just last night I set out to make a dish I described to my boyfriend as "pasta with chicken sausage" and literally forgot to make the chicken sausage because I got distracted by picking and using some fresh veggies from my garden. It's fine, you're just like everyone else.
posted by misskaz at 6:37 AM on August 17, 2018

Normal - left a gas burner on so long once, my CO detector went off. Make sure you are changing your batteries once a year!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:48 AM on August 17, 2018

These events are built into life as reminders to check the smoke detector batteries. You're fine.
posted by CheeseLouise at 6:50 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I actually did set my kitchen on fire earlier this summer. And it was for an even stupider reason (storing paper goods in a place not meant for anything to be stored). I managed to get it out, but had I not... that would have likely been the end of my house. But it was just one of those wake-up calls. I did not have a fire extinguisher OR smoke detectors. I remedied that immediately, and need to get my stove fixed (the insulation was melted of the electric cord). But I don't think I'm crazy or need mental help. It was just one of those things.
posted by kimdog at 6:57 AM on August 17, 2018

Some of these are design failures. Once read a book about this (forget which one) that described many errors in the design of consumer goods. Electric stove controls were a main example as they don't relate spatially to the burners: left to right, front to back, and they aren't consistent between brands. And lights that signal that they are on may be obscured by pots. So I don't think I'm necessarily incompetent when, in a rush, I turn on the wrong burner or leave one on low. The problem of an empty microwave could probably be solved by design too. The issue seems to be that everything is designed by engineers who don't suffer from the weaknesses of ordinary mortals.
posted by Botanizer at 7:03 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

So wait, you didn't actually start a fire? No, this isn't normal at all. This is a lot better than normal. I'm a pretty good cook with reasonably good attention to detail, and I start fires, well, not ALL the damn time, but frequently. I've absolutely done the empty microwave thing multiple times. I caught my mom's toaster oven on fire once. Just a couple of days ago, I had a bad enough grease fire on my grill that I had to pour half a box of baking soda over everything to put it out. And, to top it off, I once left a gas oven at my then-girlfriend/now-wife's apartment on for over 30 hours. ("Is it hot in here, or is it just me?") And I'm above-average in my kitchen competence. Everybody does stuff like this. Don't beat yourself up.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:06 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yes, I have set both a toaster oven and my own hair on fire in two separate food-related mishaps. And I consider myself a pretty safe cook, so I think you're just fine.
posted by snaw at 7:07 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I get 5-6 hours of sleep a night (unhappily and not by design), and yes this happens at the frequency you mention. It’s normal (and/but it’s the sleep issue).
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2018

A microwave oven that can't run for five minutes with no load is a horribly designed and dangerous microwave. The number of people who will boil water until it's gone or cook and egg for 20 times as long as it needs must be in the hundreds of thousands. If it smells like smoke, I'd phone up the manufacturer and give them hell for selling your an unsafe appliance.

On the actual topic, the number of meals I have to throw out because I forgot that I left them in my bag for 24 hours and never ate them is truly embarrassing. I'd say you sound pretty normal among my friends and colleagues. (Who may not be neurotypical, but live apparently happy and objectively successful lives.)

Insuring that you have working smoke detectors in the kitchen and making a routine of checking the stove before you leave the house, though, isn't a bad idea.
posted by eotvos at 7:38 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yes, this is normal. I'm ADD and a thing that helped LOTS was designating the stove light as a kitchen safety light. It's turned on when burners are on, burners were just on and are hot, oven is on, or when other time-sensitive kitchen stuff is happening and can't be left indefinitely. Light is turned off when none of these are true, so if I'm momentarily distracted, the light reminds me to come back.
posted by bagel at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2018

I mean I know I'm not in the normal range so maybe I'm not a useful perspective, but I do stuff like this every few weeks and it would be more often if I weren't very careful about deliberately forming cautious habits like never walking away from the stove even for a second while it's on.

It's actually this sort of thing that helped with getting my adult ADD diagnosis, that I was like: It's not classwork that really gives me problems, it's this kind of basic attention. (It's also what makes stimulant meds annoying; they don't exactly work 24/7.) So it's not something where you're broken or a total freak or anything if you've done this, but if you're regularly running into potentially-destructive problems because you forget things, talk to your doctor about it.

Also, if your medication for anxiety includes benzos, you should know that benzos can make working memory stuff noticeably worse.
posted by Sequence at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've accidentally left the oven/range on enough times in my house that my husband and I now yell "OVEN OFF" and "RANGE OFF" when we're done using it and (assuming the other person is home) echo it back. This tends to create a memory of turning off the thing and prompts the other person to ask if they don't remember echoing back the affirmation. We also have up-to-date fire extinguishers and smoke detectors with fresh batteries.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:13 AM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

You are a human being. It is okay to be human.

I stupidly dropped a big chunk of meat into a pot with heated oil and burned the fuck out of my wrist a few weeks ago. It was stupid and an entirely human thoughtless mistake. It's OKAY.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:04 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was me. You are me. I started a kitchen fire accidentally that gutted my kitchen 10 years ago because I turned a burner on to heat up oil in a pan, went upstairs to check email for just a second, totally forgot about the pan and decided to take a nap. Woke up to kitchen fire. You would think that cured me forever but I still wrestled with absent mindedness (not just in the kitchen but everywhere) until I went on ADD meds earlier this year. Life changing decision and things are so much better (currently on 80mg of straterra daily).
posted by TestamentToGrace at 9:04 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

it’s common enough that in my country, it’s law that every home has smoke detectors

In my state, in a rental property, it's every room.

What you experienced is an autopilot failure. Humans do this all the time, because the brain has a hard time keeping track of every single instance of an action you do hundreds or thousands of times. Did I give the dog his medicine tonight? Did I lock the door on my way to work? Why did I wash the dogs' comforters on "delicate" so they didn't spin and now I have a washer full of extremely heavy wet comforters? Why is the TV remote control in my purse, and where is my phone? Have you ever been driving somewhere you go all the time and then all the sudden you're like "did I miss my turn? where am I?" and then there's your turn up ahead?

I'm in a couple of Instant Pot Facebook groups, and lots of people like to set their Pot on the stovetop for the light and vent...and then turn on the burner underneath it. That's why I never do that, I've seen too many pictures and I know it would take me maybe two weeks to do it myself.

It gets worse if there's a distraction, or a multiplier like stress or illness or lack of sleep. How could you forget your child in the car? Same way you've locked yourself out of your house, set a pan on fire, called your boss "sweetheart", missed the last step, or told someone to turn right even while you're emphatically pointing left: the brain is complex machine that uses patterns to save energy, and it's not actually very good at it.

Obviously, if it's suddenly happening a lot, that's a red flag that you maybe have something going on, but that something might very well just be crappy sleep or being really caught up in some creative/work/household project that's dominating your thinky cycles, not necessarily dementia or something.

If someone was unpleasant with you about this, that's not okay but a lot of people have really short anxiety fuses about this stuff. I know I can be a little intense sometimes with my husband whose ADD means he sometimes does some really inexplicable stuff that's more "showy" than the hundred small things I forget in a day. It's worth talking through and coming up with a plan for communicating through it when this stuff happens, and maybe talk about ways to deal with common whoopsies - like how my keys are tethered to my purse on a really long stretchy cord, or we use home automation to control certain appliances so that they auto-off a certain amount of time after they are turned on. It's not going to happen less as you get older, so you might as well get creative. And for little stuff like the microwave, your best prevention is a little extra mindfulness, and recognizing when you're too up in your head and need to repoint your focus better.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:16 AM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I totally agree with everyone that this is super normal, especially in the microwave department because they are very fiddly things with generally poor design.

That said! It seems like the kitchen is triggering some of your anxiety. Could you take a look at it and brainstorm some ideas to make yourself feel a little safer?
-Years ago I melted a cutting board ALL over my stove, so now my own personal rule is: never put anything on the stove that isn't a pot I'm about to cook with!
-Get a separate timer, they cost less than $15 and you can find something you like better, like a twist-dial mechanism or one like my mom got me that has a REALLY LOUD AND LONG alarm.
-As everyone has said, place a fire extinguisher within reach.
-Are things organized well? Do you have anything in the cabinets above the stove that you might EVER have to reach into while you're actually cooking on the stove?
-get a command hook and hang a couple potholders within arms' distance of the stove in case you ever need to grab something super hot super quickly
-get a really sturdy step stool if you have things in high places that are hard to reach, so you don't take changes with reaching where you can't see
-are your knives stored in a safe way? I put mine in a knife block, but I love my knives
-My mom stores her seldom-used but very sharp food processor blades on a high shelf with large labels saying "watch out--very sharp" and pie plates covering the blade
posted by CiaoMela at 9:42 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it makes you feel any better, I once set the phone down on the left burner of the stove, put a kettle on the right burner, turned on the left one and left the room. Almost burnt down my apt that day. Last year our neighbors daughter came over frantic-food in their oven was on fire and they didn’t know what to do. Kid rang the bell and waited patiently, while several adults sreamed bloody murder and did nothing. DH went in and put it out. I have more stories but won’t bore you.

Make sure you have a working smoke detector and go easy on yourself, you’re not the first person to do distracted stuff.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2018

This is exactly the kind of dumb shit I do when I’m underslept.

That said, there are things you can do beyond sleeping more that can help. For example, my microwave won’t let you turn it on if there’s no food in it. (Ask me how I know!) And you can establish habits regarding stove and oven, as others have suggested, to lessen the likelihood of leaving it on accidentally. When you turn on a burner, pause to make a mental note of when you will turn it off, and set up some visual cue as a reminder that you are NOT DONE in the kitchen.
posted by actionstations at 10:40 AM on August 17, 2018

Normal, by my standards. You asked if you should stay out of the kitchen but I doubt that's practical. Instead you should set up systems to keep you and your house safe. Things like:

- electric kettle instead of a stovetop one
- fire extinguishers and smoke alarms
- never walk away from a pot or pan on the stove (my son will drag an armchair into the kitchen when he's cooking, so he has somewhere comfortable to sit while he waits for spaghetti to cook)
- use Siri / Alexa / Google for reminders and timers
- slow cookers are your friend, so long as you remember to plug them in
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:19 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Electric stove controls were a main example as they don't relate spatially to the burners: left to right, front to back, and they aren't consistent between brands.


One trick I use is from how Japanese train drivers are apparently trained. Before performing an operation, point at the control and say "back left burner, high".

This is also how I avoid turning laundry loads of hand-knitted wool socks into adorable felted miniature socks. "Cold/Cold - Normal cycle".
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:25 PM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

It sounds like somebody is making you feel bad. Yuck. You may want to test yourself for ADHD. I was diagnosed as an adult and make a point of using lots of coping strategies, and am learning new ones in this thread.

. When I had a store/ office to lock up, I would lock, then knock on the door. I wouldn't remember locking the door, it's too automatic, but I'd remember knocking on the door as I drove home and started doubting myself.
. I have a mental checklist when I leave the house: Laptop, wallet, keys, mobile, coffee, it works.
. Smoke alarms save lives. Carbon monoxide alarm, too.
. I have an android phone, and an app called Army Knife that has a timer. I use it often because it's Loud.
. My stove burners looked pretty, but did not strongly indicator burner on visually, so I added a line of nail polish. This is why regulation is not a Bad Thing.
. I hate to burn stuff and am making it a habit to stay in the kitchen if the timer is set for less than 0 minutes.
. I finally got an electric coffeemaker because I leave the kettle on so often.
posted by theora55 at 1:44 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Others have covered the normality of this. (I'll add a story about locking myself in my own garage when I went in and shut the door behind me quickly to stop the cat from following me. Fortunately I had my phone with me or I might still be there.) However it sounds like there is someone trying to make you feel like you are a bad, untrustworthy person who is not safe to be left alone or in charge of children. If this is the case, I hope all the examples here have been evidence to the contrary. You just made a mistake, that's all. Whether it's someone external or an internalised voice giving you such a hard time, they are wrong. And if they/it does this kind of thing frequently, I think that's more of a worry than occasional distraction, forgetfulness or plain human error. Please don't be hard on yourself.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:35 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

making it a habit to stay in the kitchen if the timer is set for less than 30 minutes. hahahahaha
posted by theora55 at 3:13 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Agreed this is normal. A couple times this year I have made coffee in a moka pot on the stove and forgotten it was there, only to come back a long while later to it fully boiling (it's not supposed to) and burnt coffee spray all around.

Every couple of years I have days where I leave the house and forget my keys, my wallet or my glasses. The glasses one is especially funny because they're usually on my face!
posted by purple_bird at 4:55 PM on August 17, 2018

One thing I've used that is helped me remember to turn things off, take things with me, etc, is putting sticky notes where I can see them that remind me of those things.

For example, next to my bedroom door, there is a sticky note that reminds me to take my wallet, my keys, and my medications with me when I leave the house. Now, I haven't left my bedroom under my own power in a good four years now, but that sticky note is still there, still reminding me that I need to take all these things with me.

When I was able to cook, I had sticky notes all over my kitchen reminding me to set a timer, to close the refrigerator, to turn off the oven, to shut off the stove, to let the water out of the sink, to wash the dishes, to clean the counters, you get the idea.

Use the brightest colored sticky notes you can stand, and put one at eye level on every exit from your kitchen. I've got probably 70 sticky notes all over my bedroom walls, mostly for motivation and and inspiration, but some to remind me of daily tasks that I don't always remember to do. I'm the chick who has to put “eat twice a day” on my to do list, otherwise I'll forget that I need to eat twice a day. (My brain hates me.)

Of course, my comment wouldn't be complete without piling on to the “absolutely normal, I do it all the time” bandwagon. You are so not alone in this.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 6:55 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's so common that even my cat set a fire in the oven.

We also yell "oven off!" in our house.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 9:23 PM on August 17, 2018

I frequently yell, "Are you pre-heating?" downstairs. And she frequently is, but she frequently started an hour ago. And sometimes she finished cooking an hour ago. She's a lot more reliable than I am however.

We are currently down one burner because I boiled a pot dry so badly it broke the element and the stove is a fairly new Sears model that is no longer supported because Sears went under so we can't get the replacement element.

I find that having a kitchen timer for the kitchen and one to carry around the house with me helps. Just carrying the kitchen timer with me is no good because then it gets mislaid somewhere.

I only use an electric kettle with a shut off because once I had kids I started destroying kettles regularly and have never gotten my brain back (or more likely have gotten into the habit of dashing into the kitchen and out again real fast). I use forcing functions to keep from destroying the kitchen. If there is a five minute wait for something that won't shut off automatically I will assign myself five minutes of kitchen clean just to keep me in the kitchen. The side benefit of this forcing function is that the kitchen has non urgent cleaning done, not just the dishes and countertops.

While I am writing this the kettle that I just boiled has shut off and is going cold but my tea has not been poured.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:27 AM on August 18, 2018

A few months ago, I left the iron on for over a week.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:47 AM on August 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Just today I had to go back in the kitchen to turn off the front right hotplate after detecting the tell-tale scent of overheated stovetop spatter wafting through the house as I was heading out the front door, the soup pot having been set on the rear right hotplate fifteen minutes earlier. This with a stove that's been in the house for all of the seventeen years I've lived in it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 AM on August 23, 2018

While I haven't followed up on this with any sort of well-designed experimental protocol, I have a single data point that popcorn microwaved for 40:00 seems much less appetizing than popcorn microwaved for 4:00.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:35 PM on August 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

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