A couple weeks ago, one of those overly helpful types made national headlines when she cleaned out the office refrigerator.
While that alone is an eyebrow-raiser, based on some office refrigerators to which I have contributed, her zealousness is not the main reason for the notoriety.
The clincher was that the process created a smell so noxious that emergency crews evacuated the whole building and 28 people needed medical attention, including seven who were shipped to the hospital.
The lesson here is obvious: For your own health and safety, never, ever attempt to clean the refrigerator.
The odiferous situation happened in an AT&T building in downtown San Jose, where the busybody decided to clean out months of forsaken lunches in the office fridge. She placed the excavated moldy food in a conference room, then used two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess, according to The Associated Press.
The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused vomiting and nausea - except in Miss Helpful herself. Allergies have blocked her sense of smell.
So if she couldn't smell it, what was the point of cleaning something that up until then apparently hadn't hurt anyone?
Just stick another open box of baking soda in there - or perhaps a bottle of strawberry jam-scented perfume - and slam the door.
I remember watching my bride clean my fridge after she moved in, and I can say with full conviction that it's not the way I would recommend spending a honeymoon.
She soaked open that one crisper drawer I hadn't been able to budge in five years. Judging by the results, it would have been better left sealed. I discovered I no longer was interested in the contents.
At least I was able to take her out to dinner after selling the contents to director M. Knight Shymalan. His horror movie ''It Came from the Back of Burt's Fridge'' is due out in November 2010.
Stardom aside, I think it best not to clean refrigerators. Every couple years or so, just have it moved out back as lawn art, then buy a new fridge and start over.
Or, if you want to save your backyard, stop saving leftovers.
You know you're not really going to have a midnight craving for the last forkfuls of green beans from last week. Do you honestly think one of the kids is suddenly going to beg for the cucumber salad he refused to eat the first three times you set it on the table?
That's wasteful, you say? Well, cook less. Those tons of obesity reports say our waistlines could stand a little less potential waste. Or drag somebody in off the street.
Better yet, invite yourself to someone else's house for dinner. Then the leftovers go into THEIR refrigerator and pose no threat to your sensitive olfactories. Plus, if you leave quickly enough, you won't have to do dishes, either.
And here's another safety tip: If someone from San Jose stops by and offers to clean your refrigerator, make sure you pack your clothes and a toothbrush before she starts. It will tide you over while you're looking for a new house.
--- Share leftovers with Cole at email@example.com