The World’s Longest Short

Last Wednesday I awoke and went into the bathroom.  I realize this doesn’t sound very exciting, and isn’t up to my usual riveting standards, but let me assure you things will get better soon. Anyway, I was in the bathroom and flipped the light switch. However, flipping the switch yielded no light. Now there are four bulbs in my bathroom and logic dictated that they all didn’t blow out at the same time. Then again let’s face it, when has logic had anything to do with reality? I went to the closet retrieved a bulb and replaced one of them. Trying the switch again obtained the same results so I looked further into the problem.

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I went to the basement, moved several random items that were in the way of the electrical box, and opened it up. In an Ah-Ha moment worthy of a great scientist I noticed one of the circuit-breakers was popped. Intuitively and with great effort I reached into the box and reset the breaker. That’s when the real excitement started.

I heard my wife scream, and then with a small flash inside the box the breaker popped again. Well I ignored the small flash and ran to my wife. She was on the floor of the bathroom holding her hand. The switch was on fire. Isn’t this the promised excitement you’re all used to? It wasn’t that big of a fire, not much more than a candle. But talking about the fire sounded great didn’t it.  Well I hit it with a wet towel and saw to my wife.  She was Ok, just a little scared so I got dressed and moved to the bigger issue; How to replace an electrical switch.

I went to the most trusted source of information I know, Youtube.com. The video was a good-looking brunette, named Suzy, wearing a tight shirt, Daisey-dukes, and a tool belt. She made the job look so easy, two screws to get the switch out two more two to change the wires. Her video took less than two minutes including the ending shot of Suzy smiling and telling everyone to watch all her other home-repair videos. Well, I had a screwdriver and was inspired by the directions, so I ran to the hardware store to purchase a switch.

On the way there, I saw a billboard advertising a contractor with a picture a lady named Meghan; Minor Electrical Repairs ninety-five dollars. “Ha Ha,” I laughed. I had Youtube Suzy, no roadside advertisement was going to take all of my hard-earned cash.

I went in to the store confidently and walked up to a wall of switches. That’s when the bubble burst. There were a hundred different kinds of switches. Suzy never told me about that. I thought hard. Which is actually very difficult standing in a hardware store with a loudspeaker blaring, “Customer needs assistance in Appliances,” every fifteen seconds. Then suddenly a ray of sunshine came through the stores skylight and rested on one switch. I examined the illuminated switch and lo, it looked just liked the one Suzy had changed. It was a sign from above. I took that switch to the counter and paid.

On the way home I saw another sign. This was for a personal injury lawyer. I had a brilliant realization. The world wanted me to suffer. That layer wanted me to have an accident, maybe even go to the hospital, obtain inferior treatment and possibly even receive the the wrong flavor of Gatorade, Then I would pay him to ease my suffering. The electrician lady from the first sign wanted my house to fall apart so I would pay her to fix it. Everywhere, people wanted me to have problems so I could hand them my hard-earned money. Only Suzy wanted to help me. Her videos were free. It was me and Suzy against the world just like those great love stories you see in the movies.

I could see it in my mind, chaos all around, the sounds of people screaming in the background. I would be standing in the rubble holding a screwdriver. Then Suzy would emerge from a burning building, not a hair out of place and say, “You know it’s very easy to replace the plug on a toaster.” I would run and replace that plug and the world would cheer.

About that time, I realized I had missed the turn to go down my street, so I went around the block. The world would have to wait five extra minutes to be saved.

I went in the house and got right to work. The switch came out just like Suzy had said, but the wires were too short. When Suzy did it, the wires came out almost a foot from the wall. Mine were barely two inches long. Well, nobody ever said saving the world would be easy. I looked at the switch. There was supposed to be a silver-ish screw and a brass one. On mine it was all black. According to the video, the wires should come off with a turn of the screw. One did, but the other was welded to the body of the switch. Now what? I re-watched that video four times and Suzy never mentioned anything like it. This was far too early in our relationship for such a betrayal, and I would have told her off, if she had allowed comments.

It was time to improvise. So, I cut off the welded wire, and very carefully stripped of the insulation. As instructed, I made a little hook, and attached the two wires to the switch. I went down to the panel and flipped the breaker. No flash. So far so good. I went back upstairs taking a break to get some water and breathe. I have just got to start getting more exercise, all those stairs were murder.

Anyway, I flipped the switch and the lights came on. Success! Then I smelled smoke. The new switch was getting very hot. I flipped it off. Nothing happened except it continued to get hotter. It actually got a funky glow about it. I screamed, “What about this Suzy?” My wife was smart enough to turn the breaker off. Then she showed me an ad which was the same as I saw on the road. I insisted that given a little more time I could fix this. She insisted, she didn’t want the house burned down. As usual she won.

I reluctantly called Meghan and she said someone would be out by three o’clock. I thought great I had several hours for a second attempt. I ended up sitting in the living room on my hands, Because I wanted to, not because I was ordered to. So, get off my case.

Anyway, a guy came out, who looked nothing like Meghan, or Suzy for that matter. He changed the switch in about ten minutes and then came back to me and asked, “Sir, why would you put a five-amp switch in a twenty-amp circuit?” I Thought carefully then blamed my son.

Everything’s okay now, but I would like to ask you all something.

What the heck is an amp?   

Thank you for laughing

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9 thoughts on “The World’s Longest Short

  1. An amp is one of the joules of electrical terminology. My wife says, “How much is it going to cost to have someone do it?”
    “Oh, I can do that myself.” “No. No, you can’t.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haven’t you heard, AMP stands for – Another Maintenance Project or Another Mastercard payment.
        My husband has lots of these sayings, 🙂, he just read your post laughing. He does a lot of electrical work, and has forgotten to turn the breaker off, only once though. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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