In my cub reporter days, I worked part-time at a service station and auto parts store. My job primarily consisted of accepting payment from those purchasing gas and selling the sundries one might pick up at a neighborhood quick-stop shop. My area occupied a small nook near the entrance, while the rest of the building was given over to a complete automotive parts store along with two repair bays where mechanics worked during the day. The pay was great for a part-time job, the job wasn’t taxing, and I met a lot of interesting people. In all, it was ideal side-gig until the night it burned to the ground.
As luck would have it, I was one of two who closed up shop on the last night. A few hours later, a family member of mine was driving by and noticed the smoke and flames. The fire department was quickly called, followed by a call to me. Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely, in hindsight), the fire inspector found all of these facts rather … convenient. Though I hadn’t done anything wrong or out of the ordinary, both my colleague and I faced some tough questions about what had happened while we were closing shop. We were both cleared when the cause was identified as spontaneous combustion of some rags the mechanics had left piled in a cardboard box.