The Great EasyMac Fire of 2014

IMG_0955There are moments in life that you will remember forever. Your first kiss, your first beer, your wedding day, the birth of your first child, and so on and so forth. For some of us, however, the inerasable memories are not so pleasant, and, in the case of the 2014 residents of our beloved Cumberland Hall, there is one memory that is nothing short of traumatic.

In the words of Fill The Steins co-founder Adam Henckler, “who doesn’t have a great Cumby story?” One day this autumn–Tuesday, September 16 to be exact, only three weeks after move-in day–I found Adam’s words to have never rung truer.

As I strolled the pathway between Cumberland and Gannet Hall that day with my roommate, both with the gleeful pep in our step of new freshmen that has slowly transformed into what is now more of a trudge/slog hybrid on the eve of finals week, we sighted people in groups outside of Cumby. My first suggestion was that the RAs had brought the residents outside to play more “get to know you” games. Naturally, we began to scout an alternative route into the building. Even though we were three weeks in, let’s be honest…do the RA’s ever cease the “get to know you” game attempts? Talk about pep. Those RA’s are in their own league.

ANYWAY, as we approached we realized that these were no RA powwows. It was clear that this was a bona fide fire evacuation, with a fire truck careening around the corner of the dorm and residents standing outside the building impatiently waiting for news on what’s happening. The only thing missing was a Choice Floor kid leaning out of a fourth floor window screaming with a binder full of Pokemon cards in hand, much like a mother with a baby who’s scared to throw it.

When there’s a fire drill or fire in grades K-12, the evacuation is met with celebration. It means less class time and even the sinister, youthful hope that the school will burn down and you might get a week or two off. In college, fire evacuations and the feeling of glee are not intertwined. College fire evacuations mean abandonment of Netflix, a sexual encounter, the book report that’s due in a half hour, or, in the worst case, a warm shower.

Word got out quick that the evacuation was caused by a student’s attempt to cook a package of EasyMac in his microwave without adding water. The cause became clear when a UMPD police officer emerged onto the front steps of the building and announced “Alright. Who’s the chef?” The culpable student did the walk of shame back into the building, where the police asked him to dispose of the extinguished lump of ashy EasyMac in the Cumby dumpster.



I felt for that poor student, who turned out to be one of my floormates, Alex Murchison. As Murchison tells it, he rolled out of bed around noon, his nose a bit stuffy, his stomach growling. It could have been his sickness. Maybe it was Terminator playing on his television. Perhaps a combination of both. Either way, Murchison didn’t think to add the only ingredient that needs to be added to a 2.05 Oz microwavable cup of EasyMac. Water.

“I was sick and tired. I put it in the microwave and turned to watch TV. If I hadn’t turned back around shortly after, who knows how long it would have been until I noticed it. I saw the smoke but I never would have smelled it,” says Murchison. “I saw the smoke and opened the door. I heard one of the guys down the hall joke ‘someone’s smokin a doobie.’ Then the alarms started to go off and I was just like F#@%.”

At his haters, Murchison simply laughs. On the popular app “Yik Yak,” which is essentially an anonymous area-bound twitter, he faced jeering from the campus community with posts like “who’s the dumbass who forgot the water in the EasyMac” and “who forgets water in EasyMac? For crying out loud, you’re in college.”

“I thought the Yik Yaks were really funny. I guess I deserve it a little. I never really took it too seriously,” adds Murchison.

Murchison’s sense of humor was much appreciated on the first floor. Hours after the incident a sign was seen on his door reading “Epicenter of the great EasyMac Fire #prayforcumby.” Murchison ultimately faced his fears head on, bursting out of his room a month later announcing that he yet again would attempt the task that eluded him.

We in Cumby still cringe when a hall mate decides to heat up an EasyMac. This type of post traumatic stress can only go away with time. But hey, we’ve still got Ramen.


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