**Life Lesson #638:
Never work with live voltage while trying to impress a woman. **
I standing on a plastic stepstool, replacing a ballast in a fluorescent light fixture in my sister’s basement when one of my sister’s nurse friends, Rachel, came downstairs to find tape to put up the “Welcome Home” banner. (My sister was coming home from the hospital after giving birth to a daughter.)
Rachel saw me working on the light with the power still on. (How else can I see in the basement unless I leave the other lights on? I don’t like telling a person with a flashlight, “Shine the light right here. No, more to the left. No, that’s too much, go back to the right a little. Now up. Up a little more. NO! Can’t you see where my hand is? Shine the light right next to it. No, this hand, not that hand!”) So when she sees me working with the power on, she says, “Isn’t that dangerous?”
Instinctively my testosterone spoke up in a deeper voice than I would usually use, “Dangerous? Naw. As long as I’m not grounded or touching anything conductive, I’m perfectly safe. See?”
And with that last word, I grabbed hold of the bare part of the live wire to prove my point. “Sheesh,” Rachel said, “I would never do that.”
“It’s fine,” I assured her. “When I worked as an electrician full time, we worked with live electricity all the time. You just have to know what you can and can’t do with it.”
And with those profound words of wisdom, I reached out and grabbed the wire I was going to connect to the live wire. I had forgotten I still had the bare part of the live wire between two fingers in the other hand. I became part of the completed circuit and felt 120 volts shoot through me.
Now if you’ve never been bit by 120V, it’s relatively not that bad. It’s not really so strong that you can’t pull away from it, but it still hurts. I flinched away from it hard and fell off the stepstool and landed half in/half out of the cat box. Inside the litter box was my sister’s cat Ramona who did not appreciate my barging into his poo-poo time. I don’t blame the cat: I don’t like people barging into the bathroom when I’m doing my business either.
The cat freaked out, jumped on my back and shredded my shoulders, neck, and one ear while trying to get away up the stairs.
Rachel was laughing at me. My neck was bleeding, my ass hurt from falling on it, and I had a handful of used kitty litter. I had no idea how to reclaim my lost dignity, so I simply went upstairs, cleaned off in the bathroom, finished putting in the new ballast and went home.
Now I’m at work, trying to think of a good excuse as to why I have five band-aids on my neck and cheek and trying to figure out what this involutary reflex is that compels me to impress any good-looking woman I see, regardless of what truly needs my attention at the time.