At Least I Didn't Kill the Cat

**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.

This is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time… not that I’d laugh at the misfortunes of others… I mean, that poor cat!

Oh sure, feel sorry for the cat. My ass is bruised and she’s sorry for the cat who got away just fine after using me as a scratching post. :stuck_out_tongue:

So you’re saying the cat’s ok? :wink:

I do feel your pain ::snicker::. Last year, during a blackout, one of my neighbors came looking for candals. I gathered up my cat, to keep him from running out into the hall (he goes bonkers when he hears “new” people at the door), and the little bugger kicked me in the neck. Claws extended. The resulting wound was quite the conversation piece at work that week, and has left a nifty scar.

If I’m reading the OP correctly, the cat’s name is Ramona… you could always tell people that Ramona got a little “over-excited,” omitting the fact that Ramona is a cat.

OK, explaining the bandaids on your neck should be easy.

Just adopt an appropriate facial expression and say, “Oh, those are scratch marks. See there was this nurse, Rachel, and, well…”

Then just trail off. Let them think what they want, you haven’t lied, you’re not embarrassed. No problem.

The other matter, that of trying to impress good looking woman, regardless of what truly needs your attention, you made the Tim Taylor-esque mistake of demonstrating rather than just stating your case. You could have proved your point (and perhaps impressed the young lovely even more) by merely quietly asserting that there’s no danger whatsoever, finishing the job, hopping down and having her melt into your arms.

Now that I think of it, I suppose explaining it away is all rather pointless. My brother-in-law works with me, and no matter what story I tell, he’s gonna come along with the truth. I’m pretty sure he’ll tell people cuz if I recall correctly, his words when he found out were, “Holy crap! Wait till the guys at work hear this one!”

:: sigh ::

Pretty soon there’s gonna be bags of cat litter on my chair, an electrician’s safety manual, anything they can find to remind me of this until somebody else does something stupid or I die, whichever comes first.

::kisses BratMan’s boo-boo:: I’m sorry, man.

That was, however, one of the few posts that has literally made me laugh out loud. :slight_smile:

You know, if you kiss a little lower, you can make my laminated list over in IMHO. :wink:

Well then…

::tiggeril gives BratMan a big ol’ smooch, whereever he wants it::


Well, I’m old enough to know better, but one day when I was standing on my kitchen counter to change a light bulb, I ended up having a similar experience. When I unscrewed the bulb the glass part of the light came out without the metal thing that screws into the socket. I climbed down and got a pair of pliers so I could unscrew the metal thing. Needless to say, when I closed the pliers on the metal, I got a jolt that knocked me off the counter and I ended up in a dazed mess on the floor.

This is one of the many times that I was SOOOOOO glad that I live alone!


I’ve done the 120 volt @60 hertz dance on occasion myself, which is why I’m a big believer in GFCI outlets and i don’t touch anything made of copper without checking it with a voltmeter first.

Excellent story, Bratman! I’m almost tempted to go do something outrageously dangerous just to start a thread about it.


Oh God, Brat. That’s hilarious…since I know you and the cat are both okay…

P.S., Mr. TroubleAgain’s been an electrician for about 22 years and he’s been known to make some doozies…and he doesn’t even need a pretty girl in the room to do something stupid occasionally…

It surprises you if you’re not expecting it, but when I did electrical work full time, we got really used to getting bit by 120v. On days when I was having trouble staying awake, I would grab the live wire on purpose to get a jolt to wake myself up a little.

The worst one I ever got though, was 277V. I couldn’t let go of the wire. What saved me was my knees buckling and falling off the ladder. I later found that the insulation on the wire cutters had come loose and my finger must have been touching bare metal when I cut into the wire. Since then I always taped the rubber on to the pliers, cutters, whatever, so they don’t slide down the handle.

That brought me to Life Lesson #427:
Don’t have a cigarette right after being shocked by 277V. Your heart’s already pounding from the electricity, and then you add a stimulant to your system? Brilliant thinking Brat. I never felt so sick in my life. Except for that time I got sick from eating a chicken sandwich from a fast food place. I won’t mention the name of the restaurant, but I will say I had McFood Poisoning for two days after.

Wow. You were really lucky to fall away from that 277. Glad you’re okay, seriously.

You don’t really need this explained, do you?

Seriously, I’m glad you’re OK (well…OK enough)

Was anyone else reminded of the Monty Python line
“Good thing I didn’t complain about the dirty knife” when reading the title of this thread?

I am in tears, this is so funny.

Can I nominate this for the first annual “Wally and the Gerbil” commemorative award?

I read through this and remember some things me and my friends have come in contact with since the formation of our high voltage club. Yes being electrocuted is funny as long as you walk away from it.

What are we gonna do with you man?

This ranks up there with putting your tongue on a 100v capacitor to see if it’s charged(life lesson number 20 or so for me, 3rd grade).

How about the dork in my chem class in high school(not the sharpest tool in the shed, mind you), who decided it’d be smart to short out the outlet right next to his desk with a papreclip! Did it with his bare hands…his mom must be soooo proud.:wally:


I felt that this was a good topic to bring me out of the shadows. No longer will I be a lurker!

When I worked in a computer repair shop a few years ago, we had a guy do several stupid things. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Eric, because, well, that’s his name. We used to fix power supplies for about half the price of buying a whole new one. Eric, having already received a ticket that morning for doing almost double the speed limit was in a pretty bad mood and not thinking clearly. He didn’t bother unplugging the power supply after testing it. None of us were paying any attention, of course. Well, when his hand went in we payed attention. There was a loud bang, he flew back into the rack behind him and a breaker tripped. I went outside, reset it, and came back in to find him still standing there completely stunned. He said he felt fine and went back to work. About 10 minutes later, he was carrying a 20" NEC monitor (one of the heaviest I’ve ever picked up) out to a customer’s car. About halfway out, his arm went numb and he dropped the monitor on his foot, breaking it.

“Pretty soon there’s gonna be bags of cat litter on my chair, an electrician’s safety manual, anything they can find to remind me of this until somebody else does something stupid or I die, whichever comes first.”

That took forever, but now to the point of the story. This was 6 years ago. Many people have done many stupid things over the past few years, but we haven’t forgotten this. Sorry, but you may just have to wait for death. :slight_smile:


Next time this happens, take a potato and jam it into the metal cuff of the bulb. You’ll be able to unscrew it then.

Ah, the noble potato…where would we be without you?