Monday, April 6, 2015

Knowledge Isn’t Transferred Through the Genes

I grew up in an old house with round push button light switches and a fuse box instead of the breaker boxes we have now. Well, one evening when I was in my teens, my parents were out with friends and my older sister and I were home alone. Sis was busy ironing her dress, and I was in my room in the basement cleaning. My lamp kept blinking on and off from an open in the extension cord.

Most people call this a short, but it’s actually an open. Yes, I am an electrician’s daughter. My dad worked hard to become an electrician, and he was very proud of his license to the day he died.

I guess I had watched too many TV shows and read too many books. Have you ever noticed that a character will know all about a subject because one of their parents worked in that profession?  Well, the truth is:  A little knowledge is dangerous and degrees are nontransferable.

With my chin held high, I found the open, marked it, and unplugged the lamp from the extension cord. I dashed upstairs for a pair of pliers to cut the cord and repair the open.

“What are you doing?” Sis asked, standing the iron at the end of the ironing board.

“I need pliers.”

“What for?”

“I’m going to fix an extension cord,” I said, proudly grinning.

Sis frowned. “Shouldn’t you wait for Dad?”

“I can handle it.”  I pulled a pair of pliers from the kitchen junk drawer and marched down stairs, feeling relaxed and cocky. I picked up the extension cord and clipped where I had marked. Although the pliers had plastic on the handles, I got the jolt of a lifetime that left my heart suffocating in my chest. I dropped the pliers and the cord, blinked, and found myself in total darkness. Sure I had unplugged the lamp from the extension cord, but had I unplugged the extension cord from the outlet?

Ah, no!

“I told you you should have waited for Dad,” I heard my sister yell down the stairs.

I cringed. My body still tingled and stung from the zap. Feeling my way, I slowly found the bottom of the stairs. My chest tightened. What a fool. What would Dad say when he got home?  He would kill me.

“What should we do?” I asked my sister when I got to the top of the stairs. “You’ve got to help me. Mom and Dad will be here any minute.”

Sis tsked at me and went to find a flashlight. I winced and headed for the fuse box on the front porch. I opened the panel and stared helplessly at it in the moonlight. Sis made her way with the flashlight. She shone the light on the fuses, and I caught sight of car headlights coming down the dirt road to the farm.

“Can you fix it?” I asked, trying not to hyperventilate. “Oh, please hurry.”

Luckily, my sister knew how to replace a fuse and the power came on just before our parents drove in the yard. I wanted to crawl into a hole. I expected my sister to run to the front door and blurt out my blunder, but she didn’t. I swallowed my surprise as Mom and Dad told about their evening out.

“Enough about our evening,” Dad said with a quizzical eye. “What went on here?”

He knew. They’d noticed the darkened house. I hung my head and immediately confessed.

Yes, it’s true. Knowledge isn’t transferred through the genes, and I approached the power of electricity with a new respect…and fear. In fact, reading this to my husband, he said, “I’ve never seen you work on anything electrical.”

“Well, duh, and never will.”

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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