Someone must have taken me aside when I was fairly young and told me the electrical facts of life. Why do I say that? Because as a rule I’ve always been quite careful when dealing with anything electrical. However, I once ran into an interesting exception to that “rule.”
I was 13 at the time, and that “interesting exception” was not a bit funny to me. However, I’ll bet you’ll find it was doggone funny.
I came across an article about a man who worked in a factory making carborundum grindstones. Somehow or other he got fine carborundum particles between his teeth and he could constantly hear a nearby a.m. radio station. What he did about his problem the article didn’t say, but it mentioned that if you held a phonograph needle between your teeth and put it on a record you could hear music through your teeth.
That sounded interesting; so I tried it, but quickly discovered I couldn’t hold one of the sharp little needles between my teeth. (Try it!) Eying the arm on our phonograph I saw that its needle was held in by a metal adjustment screw that tightened down on it. Figuring that if I clamped by teeth on that screw I would be able to hear the music, I tried it out.
Mistake! Ever taken a 110 volt jolt through your teeth? I did, when I bent down over that %$#@! phonograph and bit down on that adjustment screw.
Nope! Didn’t hear any music. However, I did hear a loud zapping sound as all kinds of flashing lights danced through my head.
Go ahead and laugh, you dirty rat!
House wiring has changed a great deal over the years. There used to be just two wires, the hot wire and the neutral wire, and I will never forget one day in Port Arthur, Texas when I happened to be in someone’s garage and I saw a pair of bare wires running down the wall on porcelain insulators that kept them about an inch apart. No longer connected, it was the way garages used to be wired way back in the past. Br-r-r-r!
These days, with the three-wire system, our homes are much safer than they once were. For one thing, the exteriors of electrical devices are now grounded by that third wire; but before that day arrived the papers carried the story of a barefooted man who was almost killed while using a power drill in his garage.
I tried to find the story online, but couldn’t, although I did find similar ones about the danger of standing barefoot on concrete while using something electrical. Anyway, here’s the story as I remember it: While working barefooted in his garage, a man got out his metal-bodied power drill. Taking a long extension cord, he walked across the garage and plugged it into the wall, came back, picked up the drill, and plugged the drill into it.
Instantly, because of a short circuit in his all metal drill, 110 volts shot up his right arm, down through his body, and out through his feet. Yelling at the top of his lungs, he tried to let go of the drill, but couldn’t because the powerful surge of electricity kept his fingers clamped tight.
As he spun around and around trying desperately to toss the drill, the extension cord wound itself around his body. Luckily, the spinning pulled the extension cord out of the wall and saved his life.
More crazy stuff next week.