Unphased

zapCall me a weenie. Shop Boy is OK with that. But I am also satisfied with whatever “normal” electric current flows through my body. You know, the type of current that can pop car locks at a near touch, that can create an arcing bolt of lightning between Mary’s nose and mine before a kiss. So I just figured it wasn’t my place to go try and unhook a possibly still-“hot” three-phase electric current converter from the old space. Enough energy inside me already, you know?

You know what’s not inside me? One idea of how to work with electricity.

But the converter is valuable!

What am I, chopped liver?

Mary suggested that either I’d do it or she would, and so …

True story: Shop Boy’s mom would have moments when she was up to here with seven kids bickering around the dinner table. By the time we started arguing over whose turn it was to remove the dishes from the table, she’d blow. “Clear this table or I will,” she’d growl, gripping two corners of the tablecloth and threatening to yank them. We usually jumped over each other to begin clearing.

One day, we didn’t.

Cleanup took a bit longer than usual that night, despite the fact that there were now fewer plates and glasses to wash. You didn’t call my mother’s bluff. And I wasn’t about to call Mary’s. Instead, Shop Boy stalled. The proper tools were over at the new space, after all. But eventually, it was time.

“Hold my feet, I’m going in,” Shop Boy only half joked. Hey, might as well go out together, right?

Mary at least decided to call in a long-distance ringer to offer guidance on which wires not to cross. (I suppose my dad could have been more helpful there as well back in the day.) Brother-in-law Tom had installed the three-phase contraption, which allows you to operate machines like the Heidelberg Windmill from more common current rather than run actual three-phase electricity into the building. The money savings can be phenomenal. But when you move, you need to unhook it and see to it that the wires do not become a hazard for, in this case, the workers coming to begin rebuilding (and rewiring) the old factory.

One problem: Tom’s in Massachusetts. We’re not.

Second problem: He needed to see the wires Shop Boy was touching. We could FaceTime on our iPhones, but we’d long since canceled the WiFi that FaceTime requires.

Now, Shop Boy wonders sometimes why Mary keeps him around. He never wonders why he keeps her. She began figuring out how to use my phone as a zombie/hotspot to channel wireless to her phone, something she’d heard about once. While she was doing that, Shop Boy trudged to the new shop (just down the street) to grab a few final tools, surely the instruments of his own doom.

I returned to find that the cavalry had arrived. On Mary’s phone, Shop Boy could see a white-bearded guru calmly dispensing the wisdom of the ages from his mountaintop lair. (Actually, it was Tom—a wiseguy for sure—from his living room. But the advice was no less sage for whence it emanated.)

On the factory floor, staring the three-phase converter in the eyes, was Jake Rivera of Baltimore’s Design & Integration. The firm does communications work, arena-sized (and less huge), amazing, one-of-a-kind, audio-visual gigs.

Jake, wife and business partner Tammy and their sons had been celebrating with us the end of an era at the building. Mary mentioned the converter, and Jake was curious. And wiring’s wiring, right?

Shop Boy’s brain: “Yes, Jake, it is. You go, young man!”

Before you could say, “Thank you,” Jake had disconnected the converter to much applause and explained how we should cap off and then seal up the loose wires. Even I could handle that. And as Shop Boy bravely turned the screw that sealed the wires behind a metal plate, Mary patted my head like the farty, old, loyal, afraid-of-lightning dog that I am.

Pride be damned.

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