1974 – 76  Sense and Nonsense

Electricity bewilders and confuses me. It also scares me silly if I allow myself to think about it. The fact that all that energy is zigzagging throughout my house all day, every day, harnessed only by very small wires is something I’d rather not think about. I have been told the stuff is safe. However, some primitive part of me is awed by something I cannot see, but which magically supplies heat, light, refrigeration, radio and TV, all at the same time.

In school we learned a little about electricity. I remember the little fellows called “electrons” which were negative and the little fellows called “protons” which were positive. Only the electrons could move and they formed the electric current. The protons just sat there and did nothing. The electric current was measured in units called “amps” and the force pushing it was measured in units called “volts”. When you multiplied an amp by a volt you came up with a “watt” – which was exactly what I said when the teacher was explaining the subject.

Another thing I learned in school concerning electricity was never to trust a fellow classmate. I was the only girl in a class full of boys. A favorite pastime was reaching for my hand – while 6 volts of electricity zoomed through their bodies. They had a battery rigged up especially for that purpose. When a good looking boy grasps a girl by the hand she naturally expects to feel a jolt, but the jolts I received had nothing to do with sex appeal!

I am one of those people who are super-sensitive to electric shocks. I did not know this until a few years ago. I planned on washing clothes at a neighbour’s house as she had more room than I had. We had moved my washing machine over to where both of us could use it.

As I placed my clothes in the water I felt the first jolt. “It must be in your mind,” I thought. “This machine has never shocked you before….?”

I tried to put the clothes through the wringer and almost crawled through with them! The machine hated me! It gave me shock after shock. My neighbour tentatively touched my clothes and then smiled. She received no shock at all. She eventually did all my wash for me while I sat miserably on a chair watching her.

“Your cowardice has finally caught up with you” I thought, “Everything you have ever feared is about to turn on you!”

My neurotic musings ceased during the final wash-load when my neighbour received her first shock. I wasn’t crazy at all! Later my husband explained that the receptacle we had used was inadequate. To safely use that plug-in we should have had a three-pronged-plug instead of the one attached to the machine.

Not long ago I had occasion to visit a lady who owned a radar [microwave] oven. She poured me a cup of cold coffee and placed it in her oven for a few seconds. The coffee became piping hot while the cup remained cold. She informed me she often cooked bacon on a paper towel in her oven. She also cooked whole meals by placing the food raw on the plates she later served them in. She insisted her oven would cook the food while the paper and porcelain stayed cold.

The other night I had a dreadful dream. I had somehow become trapped in a gigantic radar oven. Millions of little men who called themselves “electrons” were stabbing me with tiny forks while other little men whom I assumed to be protons were standing back laughing. My dream faded out as dreams often do and I found myself an invisible witness to my own demise. My family were searching for me and finally opened the oven which had shrunk to normal size. They discovered a tiny pile of ashes beneath my clothing which was neatly folded and unharmed on a rack. My family did not seem overly concerned. They merely shook their heads and muttered “Well it was her fault. She should have used a three pronged plug!”

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