Bright Idea

No, I didn’t see a long tunnel with a light at the end, but I did have soot on my hands from the flash.  I’m no electrician and the ordering instructions weren’t clear about how to get the dryer installed, as well as delivered.  The driver, who spoke English haltingly, told me he would not set it up.  There was another problem with the order: the dryer cord was for a four-pronged outlet, but our house has a three.  I suppose that’s why the cord doesn’t get attached to the appliance.  Now, we lived in Scotland for three years.  Electronic devices there are sold with a cord that you have to wire into the plug yourself—different places have different outlet types.  With fear and trembling I’d wired a lamp or two.  I prefer not to play God when it comes to electricity.

I don’t know how many appliance-related deaths happen each year, but I’m sure it’s not a null set.  Here’s what happened.  A week after delivery I found time to go to the hardware store to exchange the four-prong for a three-prong.  I went home and wired it up.  The plug didn’t fit into the socket.  Muttering under my breath, I turned to the internet to find out what had gone wrong.  Well, it turns out that electric kitchen ranges are also not wired sometimes, and they take a different three-prong plug with wires handling different voltages or whatever.  Yet another weekend came and I finally got the right cord.  A little insecure from the two attempted efforts, I put the plug in the socket to see if it fit.  A bright spark and a loud pop occurred.  Two of the connectors had been touching and I’d closed the circuit.  If I’d been holding it differently, I wouldn’t have survived the experience.

As a child I once electrocuted myself, quite by accident, it is an experience I never wanted to have again.  I was so shook up after being so close to it again that I couldn’t face going back to the store to see if they had another one—the cord was now soot-blackened, and useless.  Living in a capitalist society my mind immediately turned to my electric bill, wondering how much that light and sound show would cost me.  The dryer is energy-efficient, all the more so for not having ever been used up to that point.  Now we’re hooked up and ready to go and I’m thinking how fragile life is.  And how, in middle and high school we had to have wood shop and metal shop but not a thing about that favorite tool of the gods—electricity.

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