June 04, 2007

One time back in February or March, I pulled the vacuum cleaner out of the closet, and its plug looked like this:

Vacuum cleaner plug

I knew, of course, that the prongs were bent from pulling the plug out of the wall by the cord, rather than by the plug itself. I knew it to be the work of the cleaning lady, and I snapped this picture thinking that I would write a post about it.

My thought was that the bulk of the post would be about this time as a teenager on the job, I grabbed a cord of something or other, and pulled to take the plug out of the wall. My boss (and parents' good friend) Karl Hartman went moderately ape shit, getting all red in the face and lecturing for a number of minutes about how you can ruin a cord altogether, and how it increases your risk of electrocution or fire.

But that's the sum of everything I had to say on the topic, so my post went no further.

(The one and only interesting fact about Karl is that when my parents would get together with their friends, he would drink for a while, and at some point, he would lie down on the floor and close his eyes. Just when you thought he was passed out, he would chime in with his opinion or answer to whatever was being discussed, and you would realize that he was listening the whole time. Perhaps he hadn't even drank that much. This happened time and again.)

Well, the day before we left for Russia, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny and I were scurrying around the house like mice. Our Passports with new Russian visas showed up in the mail, we got a last piece of paperwork notarized and apostilled, oversaw the completion of having our house painted (there's a story for another day), and finished some things around the house. Meanwhile, the cleaning lady was finishing the laundry (so that Continental/Aeroflot could lose a bunch of my CLEAN clothes), and doing some light cleaning around the house.

I got called into the house to repair the vacuum cleaner. It wouldn't turn on. I checked the outlets and breaker box. I flipped the power switch on and off about seven times, and I checked the cord and the hidden compartments of the vacuum cleaner for a circuit breaker that I could reset. I noticed that the prong was bent.

Sure enough, old Karl Hartman was right. Pulling the plug out of the outlet by its end really does ruin a power cord. Mrs. theskinnyonbenny ran down to her secret land of vacuum cleaners and had the cord replaced right away.

Needless to say, she was quite surprised that I had gathered months-old evidence about how the cord came to be broken.