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Saturday, 13 September 2008

Being Handy Can Be A Curse

I live in a row of 5 terrace houses. Most of my neighbours fall firmly within the category of Senior Citizens. I like to keep an eye out for them. There is one old lady in particular who has no family living locally and I keep a particular eye on her. I’ve often helped her out with little jobs around the house and we keep a key for her, just in case she needs us in an emergency. Here I shall call her “Aunty D”.

Over the years I’ve fixed her plumbing, change light bulbs and the like. Earlier this year her freezer broke down, so we offered her space in ours until she got it sorted out. I don’t mind helping her out as I realise that it would cost her a fortune to call trades people out to fix items I could do in a jiffy.

There are also two quite elderly Gents who are quite good friends. They have both lost their wives within the last 2 years. The first, our direct neighbour, is 92 years old and still just about gets about on his own. He generally keeps himself to himself and is quite up beat and comical. But if he catches you, you’ll be stuck chatting for hours. I’ll call him “Uncle R”. The other old duffer, in his mid 80’s appears quite frail, but still drives. He has been known to be quite a miserable old bugger and we rarely chat. Him I’ll call “Miserygutts” for artistic purposes.

This afternoon we had a particularly heavy down pour. When I say particularly heavy, think flash floods. I know this because I got caught in it on my bike. It was like riding down a river while someone threw stones at me. This rain was accompanied by a very short lived thunder storm. One flash/bang and it was all over. However, that one lightening bolt obviously hit something of importance as the power momentarily blipped. It scared the willies out of Junior who was using my PC at the time. Fortunately there was no permanent damage and it quickly rebooted itself.

About 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. It’s was Uncle R. Apparently Miserygutts had phoned him to say he had no power and could I pop round to take a look. The lightening strike had obviously tripped out his main RCD and it was simply a case of resetting it for him. He flicked a light switch in his hall and announced that it wasn’t working, but from where I was standing I could see that the landing light was on. I told him this, but he couldn’t hear me. So I quickly located the hall switch, which surprised him. What worried me was that he was unable to find a light switch in his own house. This from a man who holds a driving licence and regularly drives.

Note To Self:- Stay off the road when Misergutts gets his car out of the garage!!!!

Problem sorted, off home I went. When I got there Auntie D was ringing our doorbell. The lightening bolt has upset her phone, so I popped round to reset it for her. It’s not the first time her phone has done that either. I think it’s probably on it’s last legs.

This time I managed to get as far as my kitchen before the now familiar “tap, tap, tap” of Uncle R on the front door could be heard once more. Miserygutts had no power again. So off to the rescue yet again was I. Again, the RCD had tripped which made me think that there could be another fault to find. RCDs are design to trip when there is a fault between either Live or Neutral and Earth is detected. They are very sensitive for a good reason and only require a very small fault current to trip out. This is typically in the realms of mA’s. It is usually the sign of a direct short or a heating element in which the insulation is just beginning to break down. He had put his kettle on since I was last there so I made a beeline for his kitchen. When switch on, the kettle was making a rather worrying fizzing sound. I quickly turned it of and discovered that he had managed to get the socket where the main cable plugs in, very wet. I dried it off and normal safe service was resumed.

Thankfully that was at about 5:45pm this evening and so far I haven’t heard a peep out of any of them.

To be honest I don’t mind helping out where I can. After all these people are on their own and don’t get to speak to many people during the day. My time costs nothing and mostly I’m glad to help out. One day I’ll be old too.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too helpful, but at least I’ll go to heaven when my time comes. Lol.


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