I had a strong fascination with electricity when I was a kid – still do; only now, I also have a healthy respect for it. After I learned the hard way its not really something to play with.
I was six years old. My parents had gone away on a trip, leaving my brother and I with some of their friends to watch us at our house. As anyone knows, it’s much easier to get away with things you normally wouldn’t be able to do when your parents aren’t around. I should have been content with that but no; I chose to take the opportunity to attempt to electrocute myself. That wasn’t my intention - that’s just the way it turned out.
In my dad’s toolbox, I found a short piece of bare wire, about eight inches long, with an alligator clip attached to one end. I took the wire to my room, not really knowing what for at that point. But, I figured there had to be something exciting I could do with it. There was.
In my room, I had a small metal wall heater located about four inches from a plugin. For some reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to attach the alligator clip to the heater and then insert the other end into the plug. I guess I wanted to see what would happen. What happened was, the instant the wire made contact, I got a severe jolt, as blue and orange sparks flew. But that wasn’t the worst of it. My little miniature arc welder welded the alligator clip to the heater and the other end to the plug. And then it melted the skin on my forefinger and thumb together around the wire.
Of course, the burning feeling and continuous surging of electricity caused me to jerk my hand back. The only result of that was my fingers slid smoothly down the wire; I couldn’t let go. At some point, I started yelling – probably the very second I felt the first volt enter my fingers. Everyone in the house rushed into my room where my plight was quite obvious. The guy who rescued me said later, he knew that if he’d touched me or the wire he’d have wound up in the same predicament as I. Lucky for me, he also knew what to do.
He quickly removed his thick leather belt, and I thought I was getting a spanking. Instead, he looped the belt around the wire and gave it a quick pull. The relief was instant! No more shocking and burning feeling! Still, one small problem remained; my fingers were still melded together. A little persuasion from a pocketknife and I again had the use of all five digits on that hand.
I still have the scars on my finger and thumb but I don’t think I need them to remember the experience. The incident left a rather searing impression on my brain as well and I never attempted a repeat performance. But, I have a son who a lot of people say is a lot like me – right down to his early and unhealthy interest in electricity.
He was three at the time. We were at my parent’s house and like his father; he decided plugins were meant to have things, other than a plug, inserted into them – keys in this instance. Unlike his father, he was able to let go but not before creating his own artistic display of fireworks and making a unique set of black marks on the wall. He suffered no long-term ill effects (we think) but never seemed to want to discuss the incident much. However, his interest in electricity wasn’t totally dispelled. In fact, this past week, he started Lineman College. Apparently, he too, decided electricity isn’t something to play with – he’s going to make a career of it.