August 04, 2005

Karmic Revenge

The karmic wheel of justice came around and slapped me with a practical joke last night. Yesterday I had to cover the evening shift, meaning the earliest I was able to leave work was 6:10 pm. Usually I go home around 3:30 pm. I ended up not getting home until well after 7:00 pm due to an incident that happened at work. On my home, some girl who looked to be between the age of 12 and 19 driving a small mid-90’s Honda pulls out in front of me. Not going in the same direction, but perpendicular to me as if she was crossing the street. I had seen her pull up to the intersection and stop, for some reason I kept an eye on her. I was on a four lane main road, and she was coming off a side street. When I was about three car lengths in front of her, the stupid girl tried to commit suicide by Silverado. She pulled out, I slammed on my brakes, and my truck came to a bouncing stop. If you have ever driven a truck with no weight in the bed, you know what I’m saying. The back end bounces when you stop hard. The stupid girl slammed on her brakes too, stopping right in front of me. The car that was in the lane next to me also stopped hard, poor lady looked like she was about to have a heart attack. When all vehicles where stopped, I could not see the girls face. She was so close to me that she could reach out her window and easily touch the grill on my truck. When someone in a little Honda is that close to the huge front end of my truck, I can barely see the roof of the car.

Two things crossed my mind the second this girl pulled out. First being, “She’s not going to survive this.” The mass, angle of impact and speed of my truck versus her car would have sent her rolling down the street like a freshly kicked soccer ball. The second was, “I don’t even have 2,000 miles on this truck yet!!!!!” I wasn’t worried about any physical injury to myself. I’ve investigated enough accidents between vehicles of comparable size differences. The bigger vehicle always wins, always. Fortunately, it was a near miss and I only lost some of the life span of my brakes and tires. Although, since my windows were down, the girl did learn some new colorful phrases and words. Then, to top things off, the stupid little git just drove off with out even an apologetic wave or mouthing, “I’m sorry.” On the off chance you find this post and are reading it, I hope you loaded your pants!

When I get home, I’m now hungry, tired, irritated and annoyed. There was a minor snafu with dinner, which didn’t help my mood any. Since we are leaving for Kansas on Friday, we have not done a lot of grocery shopping; we don’t want food spoiling in the house. By the time I found something to make for myself and start cooking it, it was almost 8:00 pm. That is where the huge karmic practical joke kicked in.

I’m at the stove cooking when all of a sudden the lights dim. Not a slight dim, but to the point that you can see a faint glow from the light bulbs. Our electric stove shows that it is on, but the burners aren’t on. Laughingly I make a smart arse comment about how it figured we’d have a brown out that night. Then we notice that all the power in the neighborhood is on and we really have partial power. In the kitchen the refrigerator, microwave work fine, the stove kind of works, the lights are dim and nothing else is working. In our office, I can turn on the computer, desk lamp and window fan, but the overhead light doesn’t work. In the living room, the window fan and desk lamps work, but nothing else does. Upstairs the window AC unit and TV work, but the overhead doesn’t. It was sporadic and didn’t make any sense. Most of these items are on the same circuit with something that is working. My wife says she thinks it’s the fuses. I tell her if a fuse goes out, then you have no power not a trickle of power. Moreover, we have circuit breakers.

To appease my wife I head down to check out the power box while I send her to make sure the neighbors aren’t having the same problem. I had contacted ComEd to report the brown out earlier. In the basement, I’m looking at the circuit breakers and they all look fine. Just to make sure I start flipping them one at a time. My wife is telling me which lights are going off and coming back on. After finishing that, any lights working before still worked, however anything that was “browned out” now was dead. WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!? Roaming around the house, I’m trying to figure out what is going on. This makes no sense.

Back into the dark depths of my basement I go. Now I need to give you a little background on my house. It was built in 1912; originally, it did NOT have plumbing and electricity. Electricity was added sometime in the 1920’s. In the 70’s a new furnace was put in to replace the old gas converted coal furnace. When they did that, they updated the electrical box in the house. Instead of taking out the old one, they put a second one in at that time, which brought it up to code. Our electricity flows through two boxes. It’s goofy, it’s illogical, but it’s not unheard of and it does follow the electrical code. Electricity flows into my house first through the old box, then the new box, then to the various outlets. Opening the cover to the original box, I look at the old screw in fuses in there. They all are okay, nothing wrong. I flip the lever on the main line in, killing power to the entire house. When I flip it on, no difference then when I turned it off.

By now, my anger level is reaching a peak. None of this makes any sense. I call my father who is a plumbing and electrical engineer to come over and give me a hand. While he is on his way over, I go back to the old power box. Reopening the cover, I take a second harder look at it. Right above the fuses there are two black squares about 4 inches wide and 5 inches tall each. This time I notice on each of these ancient electrical artifacts it says On and Off, except the off is upside down. There is a metal handle on each one. It is a handle, NOT a lever. After a quick inspection, I realize that each square is actually some kind of cartridge that is meant to be pulled out and flipped over to turn on/off power to the house. I’m not familiar with this electrical lay out, but at this point I figure there isn’t a whole lot more damage I could do. Grabbing the handle of one of the cartridges, I notice it feels hot. That’s not right. Bracing myself for a jolt of electricity and using more muscle then I thought I would need, I pulled the cartridge out…

Sounds… Funny sounds… it sounded like… like… the scene in Ghostbusters when they shut down the containment field on the ghost storage unit. I was waiting for there to be a green glow and the dead guy from the wall (That is a story for another time) to come out and tell me it was about damn time I freed him from his prison. Then my wife yells down that there is no power in the house. My flippant comeback to her was, “No shit, really?!?!” I hear her smart something off, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was. Then it was silent, eerily silent. I’m in this old limestone basement of a house with no power, a dead guy in the wall and I’m by myself. Talk about being a happy man, I was in my element! However, I was hungry.

Looking behind the cartridge, I see there is two huge cylinders about 5 inches long and a little thicker then my thumb. I’ve seen these before… IN FRANKENSTEIN MOVIES FROM THE 50’S! There is no way to tell if these ancient fuses are blown by looking at them. My father finally arrives and we flip the fuses. When I plug the cartridge back in, the parts that had electricity was dead, the parts that didn’t now do. It’s now 10 minutes to 9 pm. We quickly run to the hardware store and pick four of them up. I figured I should change the two in that cartridge at the same time and have two extras, just in case. We get home, change the fuses and plug in the cartridge. WE HAVE POWER!

My father looks at the electrical in my house and confirms what I had been thinking. My electrical is damn goofy. That fuse should never have blown. Sometime, probably in the 50’s or 60’s they reworked the interior of that fuse box. The power to my house actually goes in through these tube fuses, then through the screw fuses, and THEN through the circuit breakers. I have a triple redundant fuse system. They installed the screw fuse portion so they wouldn’t have to deal with a blown tube fuse. Then we have the circuit breakers so we shouldn’t have to worry about blowing a screw fuse. That means that I should trip a circuit before I blow a screw fuse, and I should blow a screw fuse before I blow a tube fuse. At least that is the theory of it. What is sad is that I’ve tripped the circuit breakers before and never had this problem. I guess the fuse just got old. It was pretty late before I actually got to eat dinner last night.

Posted by Contagion in Rants and Raves at August 4, 2005 01:11 PM | TrackBack

Fucking girl, I would have followed her ass just to scare the hell out of her.

Posted by: Machelle at August 4, 2005 12:38 PM

I'm more amazed that the store actually HAD those tube fuses that you needed!

And the reason the girl didn't say anything is because she probably never saw you. The world revolves around her, didn't you know?

Posted by: Ogre at August 4, 2005 12:43 PM

Machelle, I just wanted to get home. Plus I'm not much into following people to scare them... anymore

Ogre, I was surprised too. The reason I went to the store I did was because there was a price sticker from them on it. Apparently a lot of houses in my area still have them and actually blow one occasionally.

Posted by: Contagion at August 4, 2005 01:19 PM

Maybe it was just the dead guy trying to get some attention.

Posted by: Graumagus at August 4, 2005 02:13 PM

I would have hit her.

Posted by: Oddybobo at August 4, 2005 05:13 PM

I've been in that situation and I couldn't believe my reaction... I got out of the car and told the tall man who was the driver to get out of the F#$% car (now mind you I don't curse so I don't know who this was being channeled through me). When he didn't get out of the car he raised his windshield and locked his door. The demure and mild mannered me was GONE at that point. I got so angry that I kicked his door and kept yelling at him to get out of the car. Since he didn't even dare look at me I went to the front of his car and with both my arms pounded on the hood so hard a couple of times i left dents.

Having released sufficient road rage I let him and his dented hood and side paneled car move on. That was the last time I drove in NYC. I was lucky he didn't have a gun.

Posted by: Michele at August 4, 2005 11:34 PM

Late the night of August 3rd I also had to replace a "tube" fuse in our house(1900 model) that decided to smoke and burn. My children (now grown)swear that we have a spectral resident that makes it's presence known with footsteps, closing doors and other minor occurrences.
Power company should have had some splainin to do.

Posted by: Redbagger at September 21, 2005 07:22 AM