Peggy and myself live in what is now considered an “older house” – circa 1996, to be exact. Those of you readers who are unlucky enough to OWN your own home know that it truly IS “one thing after another”.
In our case, it seems that over the last 6 months, one circuit breaker after another has seen fit to fail, resulting in my calling my trusty electrician to stop by and replace the respective “Non-USA Made” circuit breaker with a new “Non-USA Made” circuit breaker (insert growl here).
Two months ago it was the air conditioning breaker, which of COURSE failed when it was ~152 degrees here! Before that, it was the pool sub-panel breaker, before that, the garage door opener breaker (Now THAT was fun – ever try to pick up a two-car garage door by yourownself?).
Two days ago, the Dryer circuit breaker cooked itself – I opened the electrical box to see ~6 inches of wire just plain FRIED! So I calls my electrician – he’s sitting in the hospital bed after having a heart attack. Doesn’t know if/when he’s getting out – no offense to Jim, but he’s ~40 pounds overweight, and I have NEVER seen him w/out a Marlboro dangling from his maw, except when he removes it to take a hit of whiskey from his everpresent flask. But hey – he’s cheap!
So after hauling all our clothes to the “local” (read: 20 minutes away) laundromat yesterday, and meeting MANY “interrresting people” – one of whom had fresh stitch marks on each side of his upper forehead – think the last scene from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” – I resolved to “fix it myself”…
O.K. – a trip in The Wayback Machine is in order here, specifically to 1961. Five year old Dick Jones got the genius idea to stick a fork in an electrical outlet, ’cause that’s what ALL mildly-retarded five year olds DO!
I remember my Dad sitting at the breakfast table ‘long about the time this was happening, Marlboro dangling from HIS lips, removing it only to take a long draw off that jigger of AM gin that was his daily jump-start. Did the son-of-a-biscuit-eater STOP me? Fuck NO – ’cause that’s how kids got their learn on back in the day; you learned from BITTER experience, and MAY-BE you lived through it!
After I did a one and a half gainer, cascading gracefully over my parked tricycle and rug-burning my face on my one-point faceplant, Dear Old Dad replied – “Hurts, don’t it? I’m guessing that you won’t be needing to do THAT again, eh Sonny-Jim?”
Ever since that day, Dick Jones has steered WELL CLEAR of the electrical box in any & all domiciles he has resided within. Shit – I don’t even like to plug in the fuckin’ vacuum cleaner, f’er Chrissakes!
Throw in an incident back in ~1969, when my best friend and I watched ball lightning come down the exposed pipe in his kitchen during a thunderstorm, go across the linoleum, and leave a black streak across the carpeting on its way out ‘da d’oh ya’ know peoples; suffice it to say, I have a healthy abject FEAR of electricity!
Hence my dilemma – try to fix the burnt out clothes dryer breaker myownself for $8.88 – the price of the Made In Mexico replacement breaker, or call an unknown electrician and get bent over for a $150 service call? Dick Jones put on his big boy pants and drove down to the Lowe’s…
Now, I’m ALREADY half-pissing myself just OPENING the freakin’ DOOR to the outlet box. I fumble with the screwdriver and take off the surround panel, like I’ve watched Big Jim do a half dozen times – revealing the snake’s nest that IS the inner bowels of Quick Death Central. I spy the errant breaker – a two-pole, 30 Amp switch. I pry it out with a big screwdriver, being fastidiously careful to NOT touch ANYTHING made of metal; to be safe, I jump up in the air while doing this, so I’m not “grounded” – hey, I had Sixth Grade Science!
Box pops free, leaving two menacing prongs in its wake. Now I KNOW there’s approximately 1 MILLION Kill-A-Jones contained in those two prongs; I glare back at them, trying to scare them into submission – they remain nonplussed.
I carefully unscrew both wires from the hanging breaker switch – success without pissing! I glance at my watch – 9:30AM – time for a shot of single malt! O.K. – break time over; now I gots to scrape all that charred plastic insulation away from the “Hot” wire, being careful not to touch the black wire too, and thus completing the bubillion volt circuit through my trembling body.
This proves to take longer than I can stay “jumped up in the air” while doing, so I’m REALLY rolling the dice NOW! Wire cleaned, I cut ~3″ away from it, shorten the black wire accordingly, and strip 3/4″ away from each, leaving the exposed copper wires like cobra fangs waiting to strike! I begin the potentially FATAL process of screwing the leads into their respective places on the new breaker switch, shaking & twitching like a June bug the whole time – felt like I was milking a rattlesnake, I did!
Another small accomplishment, but now I’m faced with another quandary – the wires are now too short to put the new breaker assembly back where it was – Fuck ME! Why did Big Jim hafta go and have hisself a heart attack I wanna know?
So I pry out the double breaker labeled “Pool Sub-Assembly”, as well as the one marked A/C. I struggle to rearrange the snake’s nest of wires, then push on the first breaker onto its new home on the awaiting snake fang prongs. One down!
I do likewise w/the AC breaker; my sphincter loosens, ’cause it’s marked 50 FUCKIN’ AMPS; that’s more than 30, ain’t it?
Now to cram that last breaker in place – I try to control my quivering hands as I inch the last breaker box into place; as I push it onto the last two Fangs O’ Death, it sparks at me – GEEZFUCKIN’CHRIS! Being the slack-jawed MORON that I AM, I had neglected to flip the two-pole breaker switch to the “Off” position…
After a quick visit to the clothes hamper to deposit my shite & piss filled britches into the appropriate bin, cleansing my nether regions, and putting on fresh Depends and shorts, I go square off against my adversary once again, this time flipping the breaker to “Off”. Success!
I button everything up and go back inside, do a load of shite-stained laundry, then try out my now-working clothes dryer – Dick E. Jones, Supa-Genius!