What’s So Exciting About That?

You know you’re winning when the most exciting thing that happens in your day is that a professional fire-safety-systems guy shows up to check your smoke alarm (as per the regulations) and says “he looks like my cat”. You see, I answer the door holding my cat not because he’s a guard kitty and I need his protection, but because if I didn’t, he’d run out the door into the hallway, and I’d have to go catch him. That would’ve been too much excitement. My smoke-detector does work, thank goodness, and it works loudly as it is supposed to. Does the sound make both my cat and me jump? Yes, so it works. You might also be interested to know, in case you’re trying to stay calm and avoid excitement, that there is no worrisome carbon monoxide “the silent killer” in my apartment.

Because this seems to be my day for attracting excitement, the electrician that I thought would be coming yesterday to change my antiquated fuse-box to a breaker-box, is now here. I am as curious as my cat who is watching the electrician work – probably to make sure he’s doing it right and to pick up anything he drops – because I want to watch what he’s doing too. Instead, I am helping by staying out of the way. I wouldn’t know if he’s doing it right anyway, so it’s simple curiosity for me. As someone who is interested in safety, something I do know about electricity is to not stick my finger into any kind of electrical socket, or to try to replace electrical equipment on my own. There are a number of reasons that people such as electricians go through extensive training to do what they do and get paid well for it. One thing I know for sure he did properly was turn the power off to my apartment (for safety, of course) because, it’s off. I was the one responsible for letting him know that the light had turned off when he flipped the breaker. Gosh, I feel important!

What’s so exciting about that? Well, I got to feel useful. It reminds me of when I helped my dad with his handy-man workings around the house: “Hey Kath, did the lights turn off up there?” or “hold this” speaking of the other end of a piece of wood going through a table saw. The table saw was too exciting for me. It was loud, and sharp. The loud noise coming from that thing (the table saw) was enough to tell my brain that it was dangerous, and my eyes seeing the sharp toothy blade spin around added that it was super dangerous. I wanted to stay as far away from it as I could. Thankfully, the piece of wood I was holding was very long, which was why I got to help by holding the end of it up; this made it safe.

With the electrician here doing work there are things on the floor for my cat to play with, which could be dangerous so he’s supposed to be staying out of the way. However, when he hears something fall, he goes to investigate. He was batting something across the floor, which turned out to be a bit of stone from the wall the fuse box came out of, I think (not exciting, but interesting – maybe I’ll have it carbon-dated and donate it to a museum).

My cat is not technically assisting on the project, so he’s not an electrical apprentice or even an assistant. He might be a supervisor. I’m the safety professional and first aider who just happens to be home at the time, so if the electrician says “Oww!” I’m there. I know where my first aid kit is, there are no barriers between me and the kit, and I know I can call out to my cat “call 9-1-1 and get the AED” if I need to. The only problems with that are I haven’t taught my cat how to call 9-1-1 and there’s no AED. That situation would be way too exciting, so that won’t happen.

Hearing someone say “Oww!” or “S#*…ugar!” also reminds me of the times I was ‘helping’ my dad with his handy-man things, and one particular time when he hit his thumb with a hammer. Not long after the hammer was such a jerk and hit my dad’s thumb, the blood collecting under his thumb nail created a lot of pressure and was apparently painful. Thankfully my dad knows how to use power tools because when he went to relieve the pressure under his thumb nail by drilling a hole in it, I could twenty-five-per-cent-trust him that he wouldn’t drill through his thumb. He didn’t, so I didn’t get to say “I told you so”, but he did, and I didn’t need to call my mom at work to tell her what Dad did.

Old building, Old Equipment

Having a fuse-box made my life more exciting in a way. I like antiques, so it was cool to me to have a fuse box with 6 glass fuses in it. The really exciting part – which has had me living on the edge of my seat – was that I didn’t and don’t have any spare fuses. Over the past ten years of living in this apartment I’ve thought about finding some spare fuses, just in case, and now I don’t have to. I also now know which breaker controls which circuits. Phew… now I can finally exhale. I am no longer gambling by running my microwave and popcorn maker at the same time. And in case I gamble and the odds are against me, re-setting the breaker is so much easier than trying to find a fuse.

Another exciting development attached to this electrical work being done is that now the breaker panel in the building’s basement is properly labelled. No more does an electrician need to play “power-off roulette” with the apartments in the building. This development may not seem important to us non-electricians, it does however reduce some of the excitement, or should I say ‘annoyance’ for any subsequent electrician who may need to come into this building to do work because they no longer have to guess. Anyone who enjoys the excitement of a guessing game would need to stick to playing games like “Battle-Ship” with their friends or kids, especially if they don’t trust their friends not to cheat and move their ships around.

The electrician has now finished his work and I thanked him, letting him know I felt safer. My apartment wasn’t un-safe before since I didn’t have the excitement of constantly blowing fuses, it’s just that now it’s modern. A licensed professional (the electrician) told me that, so I definitely feel safe.

The Excitement of the Clean-Up

Just after the electrician left, I had the fun of cleaning up. Don’t get too excited, it was just a bit of dust and small pieces of plaster to be swept up. I thought there would be a lot of it in my shoes left in the closet, but there wasn’t. I did, however find a couple of loose screws lying on the floor, which I gave to the electrician in case he needed them (he didn’t – he had no screws loose…and the pun has landed).

Now that the panel has been properly replaced, I have gone to have a good look at it, and have taken a picture to show my dad. I will also now have the excitement and fun of going and turning breakers off all “willy-nilly” and seeing what they do in case the labels are in any way ambiguous. The anxious excitement of not having any spare fuses no longer getting in my way, I feel so free! I might be a bit of a geek that way experimenting with my breaker-panel, or maybe I need more to do. Or maybe I need lunch.

Two-Week Update

I have now had the new breaker box in my apartment for two weeks and tested one breaker to see which plugs were attached to it, and this process allowed me to re-set my internet/ Wi-Fi; two jobs done at once. I don’t sleep any better than I did before, so any anxiety I did feel likely wasn’t because of the fuse box. Also, the novelty is starting to wear off because I no longer go to check the breaker box every couple of hours. It’s not actually as exciting as it sounds to test breaker switches all “willy-nilly”; especially since most of them are labelled. I don’t need to test “stove” because I’m pretty sure what that one does. This means I get to find other ways to add excitement to my life. So today, I’m editing and finishing off this article/ essay/ piece of literary gold in a coffee shop/ bakery I’ve never been in before. I know, exciting, isn’t it? Don’t get too excited, it’s a member of a chain so it looks similar to other locations. I need a little bit of familiarity so that things don’t get too exciting and distracting me from my focus. What’s exciting is that their bagels are pretty good, and it’s not my apartment.

While it doesn’t take much to add a small amount of excitement to my life, however small the excitement, it can inspire the next level of excitement and creativity. So maybe it’s not all about how exciting something is, but instead it’s about noticing how interesting or exciting something is by being open to see it. The thing we need, the excitement, could be right there in the form of a new breaker box, properly and safely installed.  Or maybe it’s something else, but the point is, it’s there. And once it stops being distracting, let it inspire you and then go and get some things done already!

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E-mail kathryn@kathrynreichheld.ca Hours Contact me anytime and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
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