••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Monday, October 10, 2005

i & i

one night around a decade ago two lights went out in my north jersey apartment.

i went to the cellar and checked the breakers but found them all closed, so i phoned my landlady. she sent her husband over, but he found nothing wrong either.

[in case you wonder why i don't call him "landlord," think of queen victoria and prince albert in a can: she owned the place, he was her consort/handyman. i'm kidding about the can. it's a pipe tobacco prank you may've heard of. kids love to phone drug stores and ask "do you have prince albert in a can?" if the answer's yes they say "well, let him out!"]

the next day she brought an electrician over. i told him what happened. he made me change a bulb to make sure that wasn't the problem. i told him two lamps went out at the same time, but he insisted, so i complied. the lamp stayed dark. he checked the outlet with a meter, which he could've done first. then he went to the basement to look at the wiring and make an estimate.

½ hour later he came back and told my landlady there was no telling how long it might take to find the broken wire, and he'd have to charge the hourly rate, so it might add up to thousands of dollars. then he pointed out that it was an old house with outmoded wiring, so the same kind of failure was certain to recur, so she'd save plenty if she rewired the whole house now. he said he'd do it for $15k.

i chimed in to ask why he didn't draw a wiring diagram that might help him find the problem quickly.

he responded that i wasn't paying for it, so i should stay out of it.

then he told a story. he'd made the same recommendation to another homeowner. a week later he drove past the house and saw a competitor's truck parked there. he pulled over, and the rival electrician told him he'd been crawling around in there looking for a broken wire for 4 days—at the hourly rate, of course.

then he said he had a big job coming up, but he could squeeze her in before it and would even knock $1000 off the price if she made up her mind in two days. [this is a sales technique called "putting hurry into it."]

when they left i went downstairs and drew a chart of the cables and light fixtures under the cellar ceiling. i tried all the lights and eliminated the good lines i could identify. i gave the chart to the husband and told him it had to be one of two lines i had marked and which one was most likely.

he found the trouble and fixed it within a day.

the next time i spoke to my landlady, she seemed to suspect i knew how to find the problem because i had caused it.

electricity was a complete mystery to her. she never imagined circuits could be logically analyzed.

sales and marketing were also unknowns to her. she didn't know her unscrupulous electrician used scare and pressure tactics—techniques commonly used by salespeople and con artists to play on ignorance and insecurity.

we're all ignorant and insecure in one way or another, and there's always somebody out there looking for a way to take advantage of it.