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An Almost Shocking Story

Last week I talked about my attempt at making-busy while staying at home, during these unprecedented times. Unfortunately, my facade as a plumber and 'Tom the Toolman' were exposed as just that, facades. And any pretense about a successful career that I could have had in the home-repair business, went quickly down the drain ... well, a normal drain, not the one I worked on last week.

The next project I picked to highlight my inept abilities was one of an electrical nature. Hey, what can go wrong while tampering with electricity? No problem … the only danger was if my wife found out.

Nonetheless, tired of watching the onslaught of Zoom-and-doom, homemade videos of people singing “We Are the World” - in the key of fingernails on a blackboard, I might add - I decided it would be a good idea to put an (electrical) box on the outside of the house.

How and why that decision came about - other than the aforementioned onslaught of Brady Bunch-copy-cat-collages-of-forced-smiley-faces bombarding our airwaves – occurred when I was cleaning an area in our shed. I found some electrical supplies; and inside a cardboard box of wire, plugs, etc. was a brand-new all-weather outlet contraption. Cool.

I stopped what I was doing and thought: “this cleaning up the messy shed thing, is dangerous. I might die from boredom. I'll do something safe like stand in the wet yard and carelessly mess with electrical wires while installing this outdoor receptacle ginkus.” (Perhaps you noticed this column is called 'From the Valley' and not … 'From the Genius'?)

I chose a spot where I wanted to put the newly-discovered box. But first, I had to check and see if there were any wires between the inner and outer walls that might be in the way. By all appearances, it looked clear; so I went for it. Assuming I had a drill-bit long enough to extend all the way through both walls, I started slowly. After a few minutes of cautious drilling, the resistance from pushing the drill forward was gone. Ah-ha, I'm through ... I thought.

Not so fast, my friend. The drill-bit had come out of the chuck and dropped down between the walls. I was through alright, I was through with that drill bit … forever. Gone. So long. Sayonara. See ya.

To make a long story 'short' (electrical pun unintended), I actually completed the project. I couldn't wait to show my wife. She was raking out in the backyard and had no idea what I was doing. Boy-oh-boy, was she going to be surprised. I went and got her and brought her around to the front where I'd been working. Woo-hoo!

Horrified wasn't exactly the reaction I was looking for. Nor was “Are you nuts?” the exact compliment I was expecting.

“You can't just do that! Doesn't it have to be inspected or something?” she wondered. (“Wondered” being the more family-friendlier version of the precise tone and exactly how the conversation went down.)

“I had it checked out,” I said defensively.

“Oh really?” I detected doubt. “Who made sure it was safe?”

“Well … that stray cat,” I said, pointing over my left shoulder. “I had that stray cat check it out.”

“You are so ….” Sometimes it's nice to leave her speechless ...or as in this case, not finish her thought out loud.

As she stomped off, I hollered, asking if there was anything else she thought I should do. Turning her head back, but continuing to walk away, she scoffed, “Yes.”

“What?” I asked.

“Bury that poor cat!”

Disclosure: no cat was actually killed in the making of this column. Badly burned, yes. But not killed. (Kidding! No burns, either.)

And finally, I never dreamed that something Richard M. Nixon once said would or could ever be used in a time of turbulence as an inspirational voice of hope. However, I think he hit the nail on the head when he quipped ...

Only if you've been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountaintop.”

I think we all, will now take the time to smell the roses and appreciate what we once took for granted when we – and we will – awaken and recover from this bad dream. Be smart and be safe.

And that's the way it looks from … this Valley.

What are you doing to stay busy? E-mail

The author of near shocking story Tom Valley

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