A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Vacation of 2013

I am out on vacation from my day job this week. I’m not doing anything spectacular this week. No day trips, no cruises short-circuited by illness or fire, no long airline flights sandwiched between long miserable lines and/or wait times on tarmacs, and certainly no intercontinental train trips with long waits on sidings while a freight train 20 miles in length delivers its goods to the American markets. No, this is a cheap, stay at home vacation in which I am completing home projects which I have procrastinated for months, perhaps years.

So far it’s been uneventful, if you don’t count the fact that I nearly electrocuted myself…but I’m getting ahead of my story. 

My vacation began with a weekend trip to see my mother and brother in North Alabama, er, I mean upstate Pennsylvania. We met our oldest dearest friend, Janey, on the way out of town for breakfast, where Anne Marie presented him with the poncho she had knitted for him. (See the photo on her blog.) I asked him if he would make a point of seeing Behind the Candelabra film premiering on HBO the next day. I mentioned the latest Liberace biopic on the off chance that he would recount a story he told me years ago when, as an employee at a West Hollywood florist shop, he assisted in delivering plants to a friend of Liberace’s “protégé” Scott Thorson. As it turned out, Janey didn’t bite, no pun intended. He did report that friends were taping it for him for viewing at a later date.

Monday, Memorial Day, came and went without incident. No cookout, since we had gotten our fill of barbecue food at my brother’s the day before. We opted for Chinese takeout before embarking on our bi-weekly grocery store trip.

My plans for Tuesday: a pedicure in which my calluses are lovingly sanded/scraped/filed off of my heels, but no paint is applied to my toenails; a haircut (my first since December!), and then spend the afternoon doing yard work. What actually happened Tuesday: pedicure, no problem; haircut, done; but rain, rain and more rain scuttled my outdoor plans. So I cleaned a bathroom, and sat with my younger cat, Nyla, while I viewed multiple episodes of Archer.

Wednesday: good weather and a perfect day for yard work before the humidity invades for the end of the week. I decide to pull the bigger weeds in my yard — some approaching five feet tall, I kid you not — and trim a shrub which was growing above the bottom sill of our dining room window. I use an electric hedge trimmer, connected to a 120V AC household outlet which is directly beneath the window inside the dining room. I have used this trimmer before, feeding an orange extension cord out through a crack between the inside window and screen. I took great care so that the cord was draped away from the area of the bush I was trimming.

Well, you can probably guess what happened, for as Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft get singed with a great electrical shock”…or something like that.

All was going well until I stopped and noticed that the cord had, despite my careful planning, indeed got caught between the teeth of my trimmer. On closer examination, I noticed that the cord was nearly severed in half exposing the actual metal inside which conveys 120 volts of electricity through its length. I immediately unplugged the trimmer from the cord, and then proceeded to separate the cord from the trimmer’s teeth, content in the knowledge that I had taken all of the proper safety precautions.

The cord proved to be very difficult to pull away out of the trimmer, which is just as well, because at this point my brain kicked into gear and made me realize that I was not out of danger. I don’t recall the exact wording of the message which my brain sent to me, but I would not rule out that they contained words like “effin” and “idiot”. I determined that while, yes, I had disconnected the cord from the trimmer, the cord itself on the other side of the trimmer's teeth still snaked through the branches of the bush, through the slit between the screen and sill, through the crack between the window and sill, curled downward to the 120V AC wall outlet to which it was still CONNECTED.

(NOTE TO EDITOR: Please feel free to take advantage of these parentheses and enter your comment here. Don’t spare any words; be brutal, for I deserve it.)  Editor's comment: you are a disaster waiting to happen!

Realizing what I nearly did to myself, I carefully laid the trimmer down, entered my house, and unplugged the cord, which was now totally useless. I discarded the cord, made a mental note to put it on my DIY store shopping list, and had another lengthy break watching multiple episodes of Archer with Nyla. 

So, my vacation is half over, which gives me more opportunities to do something stupid again! Oh boy! My mind reels at the possibilities!

(Thank you for reading. On to Thursday! Wait, Michelle Bachmann did...WHAT?)


Anonymous Janey said...

To clarify:

My first assignment at my new job working for a West Hollywood plant installation firm was to decorate the new apartment of Scott Thorson, who at that time was no longer living with Liberace (it was June of 1982, and there were clouds on the horizon of their love). The story itself is too lenghty to type here. But RTG, what were you trying get me to "bite"(no pun intended) into? Surely I've told you and AnneMarie that tale, which, surprising, involved no sex -- it was, after all, my FIRST DAY on the new job!!

Perhaps HBO will make a biopic about it all. With a personal trainer and a magician of a make-up artist, I could still play myself -- 30 years younger! :-)

May 30, 2013 at 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Vacation Janey said...

PS: RTG, I'm off from work too! All fuckin' summer! I LOVE being a college professor! :-) Call me if you'd like to get together!

May 30, 2013 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't electrocute yourself. I had to do a fair amount of electrical work in my former house. I almost zapped myself a few times. I try to give electricity the healthy respect it deserves. :-)

May 30, 2013 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi Janey, thank you for the clarification. Anne Marie doesn't recall hearing this story, but it's a good one (albeit one without sex) and deserves to be told more than once. As far as biting...I was referring to biting as in "taking the bait," but you're free to use your double entendre laden imagination. :)

Hi Sean, thank you for the comment. I've been zapped a few times, once while vacuuming dust our of a clothes dryer;I have no idea what I connected with that sent a surge up my arm. Electricity can be a vengeful bitch!

May 30, 2013 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger David Jeffreys said...

I, too, almost electrocuted myself involving an electrical 220v box on the outside of my house in then Florida which could be used to turn off and on the outside A/C compression. The box was weathered and old. Being "experienced", I carefully turned "off" the electricity going through the box by moving the arm from "on" to "off." Then I took my trusty Sears huge Craftsmen screwdriver and tried to pry the cartridge fuse out of the box by applying leverage between it and the edge of the box.

Luckily for me, I was only holding the insulated plastic handle of the large screwdriver, unlike my usual technique of applying pressure with my index finger on the metal rod!

Sparks flew! Sounded like an explosion to me. So scared was I that I jumped back and down from the ladder. My big Craftsman screwdriver was now welded into place in the electrical box and the house mains had shut down the electricity to the house!

And just why did this happened to me??? The off/on handle of the weathered electrical box had broken leaving the connection intact in the "on" circuit, while the handle had moved to the "off" position.

I still have that damaged screwdriver today about 40 years later to remind me of the power of electricity!


May 30, 2013 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi David, and thanks for your story. I'm happy to hear that all ended well, and best of all, you lived to learn a lesson. As I've always believed, "Mistakes make the best teachers." Now remembering the lesson the next time I play with electricity...well, that's another story.

June 1, 2013 at 8:26 AM  

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