Saturday, October 09, 2004

Copy Machine from Hell

Let me first say that electrical objects in my office have a tendency to act up for me and no one else. Especially the copy machine. It has never once gone through a run for me without jamming. Does it jam for others? No, not really.
Last Friday, I was working late, alone in the office, and making my usual copies of the newspaper layouts to take home to proofread. Miraculously, there was no paper jam, but I did hear a strange popping sound, and smelled electrical smoke. I noticed that the area around the copier plug was blackened, so I unplugged it, left a note not to plug it in, and called my boss to explain. He said he'd have it checked.

Monday morning, the copier worked fine, no sparks or smells, so I was teased mercilessly the whole week about my copier paranoia. Did the copier have any more issues during business hours for the whole week? Umm, no.
Last night, I again was working late. A co-worker came in after shooting football pics, just as I was getting ready to make my layout copies. I joked that I was glad he was there to witness the copier freaking out on me. He laughed, until the first pop rang through the office. I glanced warily over at the plug and saw a flame shoot out. "George, oh my God, the copier is actually on fire!" I shouted. Another pop echoed through the building. This time, not only did the flame shoot out of the plug, it stayed out, and grew larger. I had one of those moments where you don't know what to do, so I shifted from foot to foot, anxiously, trying to formulate a plan to take down the flaming copy machine from hell. I turned off the copy machine, grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the wall. The vicious whipping of the cord through the air extinguished the flames. I dropped the cord and surveyed the damage. Foul-smelling electric smoke and the scent of charred plastic filled the office.

George was now standing beside me. The look on his face was sheer amazement. I'm sure he was wondering how the copy machine could hate me so much that it actually burst into flames. I told him I was glad he saw that so he could tell others it was true. He said, "Well, even if they didn't believe you, the char marks on the wall pretty much corroborate your story." He was right. Black streaks snaked up the wall and over the formerly cream-colored speaker plug that was in the top spot on that outlet. The bottom outlet hole, previously occupied by the copier, was all melty and weird-looking.

After more notes and another call to the boss, I'm banned from using the copy machine at work, especially after hours. I think I'm cool with that.
Admittedly, I did enjoy springing this story on my husband and sister-in-law when I got home on Friday night. I often use the phrase "putting out the major fires" when describing the tasks I have to finish before leaving the office. Imagine their surprise when my story involved actual flames!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Time is running out...

I've had a secret for the last four years. A dirty, shameful secret. Well, actually, I'm not all that ashamed, but the dirty part, yeah, that's accurate. I'm a slob. A hopeless, can't-throw-anything-away and can't-declutter-to-save-my-life slob. Somehow I've managed to (mostly) hide this fact from my husband for the last four years. Why did I not think about the everyday horror of keeping up this charade when I convinced him to marry me? Sure, he probably would have married me even knowing about my secret dirty side. But you can't just let all of your flaws hang out while dating, right? No way. All bets on disclosing secret shames are off in the dating world.

Why am I letting you in on this now, you might ask. On Saturday, when I called my husband in Kazakhstan, he announced that he had done all of the damage he could do in that country, and would be returning home to continue his reign of terror in the good ole U.S. of A. "Oh, when will you be back?" I tried to ask casually. The fear was creeping in. Tuesday. The answer rang ominous in my ears. Tuesday. As in three days. I had to face the facts. My daughter and I were complete slobs. I had to reverse all of the damage that we had done our little house in a mere three days or risk unveiling a perfectly good cover-up operation that has been going on for quite a while. No. The mess will not win this battle. I will not be exposed for the neatness fraud that I am.

On to the next problem. This one, not a secret from my husband, mind you, is possibly worse. I'm a procrastinator. In addition to the messy house, which by the way I have not even started cleaning yet, I also had a specific list of tasks to be completed that my beloved could not do while he was away. Some tasks, marked *urgent*, remained to be completed. Since I learned of his imminent arrival on Saturday, that really only left me one weekday in which to complete any tasks involving service or stores, since nothing is open on weekends around here. Yikes.

Naturally, being the procrastinating slob that I am, I didn't feel the need to do much this weekend. I did sort out laundry that needed to be washed. I sorted it mentally and not physically, though, so I'm not sure if it counts. My living room still looks like a toy store exploded in it, and my sewing area has fabric samples heaped precariously high over patterns and spools of thread. The kitchen is not so bad, thanks to the fact that I use my mother-in-law's kitchen to cook most meals. Thank heaven for small favors. The laundry situation, though, is most dire. How many loads of laundry have I done since Gaylon left? One. One load of laundry. Being the amazing shopper that I am, Maya and I have plenty of clothing to go for a while without doing laundry. I hate doing laundry because in this tiny house I have nowhere to put the laundry when I'm done, with only one closet and all. So not only do I have to wash the clothing tonight, all 589 loads, I have to fold it all and find some new nooks and crannies in the closet in which to shove our spectacular clothing assortment. I may need to find a hammer and some boards and just build a laundry shed on the side of the house. In fact, building a laundry-concealing structure might even be faster than fixing the laundry problem by actually washing the clothes. It's really that bad. Perhaps Ty Pennington has an emergency phone number for Extreme Laundry Makeovers. If so, I'll be calling him STAT.

So, here I am, with less than 24 hours until I must leave to pick my husband up from the airport. I managed to complete most of the items on my *urgent* list today. I sweet-talked the guy at the co-op into fitting my appointment for an oil change in this morning. I balanced the checkbook. I checked to see that the old pickup battery was working. I hand-harvested 50 pounds each of goldenrod and liatris (don't even ask why my husband's to-do list involves picking wildflowers). I'm sure Gaylon will know that I did all of these tasks last minute. As I said, the procrastination is no secret. Yet, I wonder if there are penalties for forging the date on those little oil change stickers they give you. It would save me the merciless teasing on the way home from the airport, you know.

The house, however, must remain a secret. I'll likely get little sleep tonight, instead roaming the house in search of rogue toys and old magazines. Maya? She's of no help whatsoever. Suddenly, after weeks of not sleeping, she's tired. Imagine that. So tonight, before you snuggle into your warm bed and sleep, think of me. There's a heavy price to pay for keeping secrets, folks.