Lord of the Ring
Most electricians don't wear a wedding ring for one obvious reason — it conducts electricity. While working for an old-timer in the whaling city of New Bedford, Mass., I found another reason to leave the ring at home. This old man could snake a wire in any application. One day he sent me to the basement of a “three decker,” while he went up to the attic to send the snake down an old chimney. I was feeling around in the narrow space for the snake when suddenly I felt it. After I grabbed hold of it, I yelled up to the old-timer to let him know I had it. Unfortunately, he prematurely started pulling the snake back up, which was now hooked on to my wedding ring! As he began pulling my arm up the chimney (rather than the Romex), I frantically screamed as loud as I could until the hard-of-hearing old man three floors up finally heard me and stopped pulling.
The Barking Phone
Some years ago, while working as a telephone repairman, I was dispatched on a “Bell Doesn't Ring” trouble call ticket. Once at the residence, I asked the customer about the trouble she was having. She told me that although the phone didn't have an audible ring, she always knew when she was receiving a phone call because her dog would bark. I began my investigation by carefully inspecting all of the wiring for this circuit. I found the source of the problem in the kitchen where her dog would always lie. Over the years, the dog had rubbed the insulation off of the inside wire. When the AC ringing signal was sent down the line, the dog would feel the 100V or so signal and bark. This sure was unlike any ringing mechanism I had ever come across!
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf