Editor’s Query: Tell us about a time when a simple plan went awry

March 8, 2012

One day I saw a puddle of water spreading on the kitchen countertop near a jug of bottled water. Discovering a leak in the bottle, I put it in the sink and set about wiping up the mess. I moved various things off the counter, the last being a plastic container holding 10 pounds of flour.

Never carry a plastic container by the lid. My load suddenly lightened as the container separated from the lid. A miniature mushroom cloud of flour rose into the air as flour hit floor. I hauled our canister vacuum out of the closet and set about sucking up the flour. Our apartment was small, so I was in the kitchen with the vacuum hose while the canister body was in the front room.

Never try to vacuum up flour. It is fine enough to pass through the vacuum’s bag and out the exhaust. Sucking up the last of the stuff, I turned toward the front room. A whitish fog worthy of San Francisco Bay hung in the air.

Finally, never use a wet paper towel to clean flour off upholstery. In no time, I had enough papier-mâché to win a school art fair. It took hours of painstaking cleaning with a brush and dustpan to finally get the apartment in order. For months afterward, our sofa puffed up a small white cloud anytime someone plopped down on it.

Tom Neven,

Brandon, Fla.

New query: Tell us about a time when you turned failure into success.

The Washington Post is partnering with the Public Insight Network (PIN) to hear more of your 100 percent true stories taken from your own experience. Submit your answer to the query above online at wapo.st/ed-­query. By sharing your story, you become part of PIN — a network of more than 130,000 people who contrib­ute to high-­quality journalism. Editors will choose an entry to run in the Maga­zine, but we will also share more of your stories online. You can also submit to The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

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