A horrible event.

This is in answer to your question, "what was the most embarassing thing that ever happened to you."

In the lavatory at work, we have a box of matches instead of Lysol. At least two or three times a day, I go into the bathroom for a few moments, to hide, read, and collect my thoughts. Yesterday I was sitting there, leafing through a book, and I began to light matches for no reason except to watch the flame. After lighting them, I'd toss them in the sink, two feet away. It was something to do with my hands, an absentminded action.

One of them didn't make it, and it was still slightly lit. It fell into the wastepaper can, below the sink. The paper in the basket smoldered for a minute, which I didn't notice, then caught fire.

I jumped up and turned on the faucet, trying to dump water over the edge into the basket with my hand, but the fire found something extrememely inflammable before the water damped it down. Suddenly, with a "whoof," there was a rocket of flame shooting from the can, bringing the trash with it. My eyebrows came off immediately.

Reconstructing the event, I believe someone had put a can of spray adhesive in the basket. The can didn't explode from the heat, or otherwise there would have been shrapnel (and I would have been blinded), but the bottom of it burst off. Apparently, they're designed for that.

The release of pressure thrust out several pounds of loose paper into the air. The room turned black and thick with smoke. My pants were still around my ankles. I was covered with loose paper. Because the entire office menstruates during the same week, and it was that week, I was also encased in tampons.

I unlocked the door and emerged, choking, trying to hike up my pants with one hand, covered in snotty tissues, paper towels, and tampons. The bathroom behind me looked like a smoky circle of hell. Three coworkers stared, not comprehending.

I immediately tripped and lost the grip on my pants, so my large, bare ass pushed into the air, my dick dangling below as I fell to my knees. I stayed there, with everyone staring--this only took a few seconds, but it seemed longer--and the alarm system sounded. Then the sprinklers went off, causing $40,000 damage to the computer systems in the office.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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