Sunday, April 3, 2011

Death by technology

My life frequently goes beyond the unexpected.  I seem to stray from unlikely to highly improbable on a fairly regular basis.  For example, this week, while running a lunchtime errand, I got to watch my car- or rather the accessories in my car, try to set my car ablaze.

It started that morning, when I took the cable from my iPhone charger into the office.  I wanted to sync my phone and I didn't think I had a cable at my desk.  When I take the cable out of the charger it just leaves a USB port there in the 120v outlet in my car.  That on its own is nothing to be afraid of.  But unfortunately it wasn't on its own for long.

Several years ago Mr. Dog and I subscribed to Sirius satellite radio.  It was great when we had long commutes, it was fantastic when we made long drives from the Bay Area to Portland to visit my family, but once we moved up here we just didn't use it much.  In fact, I quit using it entirely and the professionally installed cradle the receiver sat in decided to unmount itself from my dashboard.  Apparently the glue the installation guys used to stick it in place dissolved over time leaving the cradle dangling precariously by the two wires that connected it to the car stereo.  As I drove the cradle would swing back and forth, bashing into anything that got in its way, including anyone sitting in the passenger's seat.  After a while I decided it was too annoying so I disconnected it.  I just unplugged the wires and let them swing free.  So instead of a cradle bashing into people's legs it was just the gentle tap tap of the tiny metal connectors.

It wasn't until I drove out of the parking lot at work that afternoon that these two pieces decide to conspire against me.  As I turned one way or another, there was just enough swing at just the right angle to let the metal connector tips of the wires lodge themselves in the USB port.  I probably wouldn't have noticed if the electricity flowing through the wires didn't cause the rubber coating to melt and burn with wisps of heavy black smoke starting to waft their way into my vision.

When I fist caught sight of it, I had no idea what was happening, I just saw smoke and lots of it.  But I quickly realized it was coming from the wires and was able to knock them out of the USB port.
I then added a pair of shears to my shopping list on my errand and snipped the wires way back to prevent this from happening again.

It is this kind of long shot weirdness that seems to typify my life lately.  I'm just happy my whole car didn't manage to ignite. Imagine trying to explain that to the insurance company.  "Right lady, I'm sure that's just what happened."  And who could blame them, I probably wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't witnessed it with my own two eyes.

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