Exactly five years ago, we were in Ukraine, just two weeks into our five-week adventure for Masha’s adoption. For the next few weeks, I’m posting excerpts and a photo or two from each day…except some stories are just worth repeating in their entirety, so you get the whole thing today. Sometimes funny, and sometimes proof of how naive we were, I hope you’ll enjoy our little trip down memory lane…
Last night, as we were hanging around the house, Mark asked me if I smelled something funny. Now, this town always smells kind of funny, so I said “Well, no.” End of story. (and you’re all thinking, Hmm, that’s really not worthy of my time to read…just wait, dear friends).
This morning, we woke up, had a cup of tea, chatted on the phone for a few minutes, and then noticed that the battery was close to dead. So we put the phone on the charger. Again, really exciting, huh?
A couple hours later, Mark asks again if I smell something funny. It seems to smell oddly electrical, but I assume that it’s something from the steel mills, that was intensified by the rain yesterday. I further apply logic and determine that whatever the smell is, it’s recirculating in our apartment because everything is closed up and the air conditioning was on.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, Mark looks over to see if the phone is done charging and notices, uh, smoke. Smoke not good. He quickly unplugs the charger, but discovers that is not the source of the smoke. Instead, the smoke is wafting up from the receptacle where the air conditioner is plugged in nearby.
Mark kicks into overdrive, and as he tries to unplug the air conditioner, the little plastic adapter that was between the plug and the power strip (yes, it was plugged into a freaking power strip!!!) stretches out like a piece of pulling taffy. We get the plug separated from the adapter, and the adapter separated from the power strip before everything cools off and fuses together permanently.
The air conditioner still works, but one of the prongs on the plug is charred and wiggles like a 6-year-old’s loose tooth. We have recommended that the plug be replaced by a qualified electrician, but the landlady didn’t seem as concerned. She did say that a man will come.
2012 Note: This, my friends, is an example of the literary device known as foreshadowing.
So now we’re afraid to plug anything in. We have no clue how these Soviet-era buildings are constructed, but I’m betting the wiring doesn’t exactly conform to code. Based on no principles of physics whatsoever, we have decided to spread out our gadgets to different plugs in the apartment…cell phone charger in the bedroom, laptop and camera charger on a different outlet in the living room, etc. Everything away from the air conditioner.
Thus begins the search for another outlet that is still within a cord-length of the couch. After a few minutes, we located one behind the piano. Outlets are located at about chair-rail height around here, so that’s not quite as horrible as it sounds. I realized I could reach it, and that I had a good chance of plugging a power strip in there. Mark pulled all the breakable stuff off the top of the piano (I’m a known klutz with things like that…) and I reached behind with the plug of a power strip.
After shoving it around blind for a couple of minutes, I decided I really needed to determine where the holes of the outlet really were. Expecting it to be somewhat like an American outlet, I thought I could brush my fingers across the surface, orient myself to the location of the holes, and then resume my blind efforts to plug this darn thing in.
You guys know where this is going, don’t you? After a couple of seconds of this, I see a spark a millisecond before I feel a nasty zap shoot up my right arm. Yup, like a two-year-old, I stuck my finger in the outlet. A 220 outlet. Ouch.
After I jumped around the apartment, Mark plugged the power strip in…without electrocuting himself. For you worrywarts who wonder if I’m OK, yes. I’m fine. My arm tingled and hurt a little bit for about an hour, but overall, I’m fine. Really. But I have learned that electricity is not my friend.
Other than attempting to burn down our whole apartment building, not much happened today. Lunch at a new cafeteria…Amstor (the Wal-Mart-like grocery and whatever-else-you-might-want store) also has a cafeteria with pretty darn good food. We went there for efficiency’s sake. We only had about an hour to eat and for the girls to shop for a small birthday gift for one of their caregivers. We also did a little bit of shopping before we picked the girls up, and then a little more after we dropped them off. Ordinary day. Except for the electrocution part.