Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A True Story

So, for background. At Fort Classified, we have an enormous Tesla coil, which radiates electrical energy outward. This is a historical and scientific curiosity, but is mostly used because it looks cool. Like several other displays on site, this is very dangerous, especially if someone gets very near the fence surrounding the coil. On to the story from, um, Dave.

since telling stories is the best thing to do when one is supposed to be studying...jilly comes to me yesterday with a huge box of florescent bulbs of all sizes. she says, "c'mon DAVE, i want you to help me with an experiment." i was the ONLY person on the top floor, guest or employee, but i didn't want to leave my post, just in case someone came up. so, i asked her what kind of experiment it was.

"well," she says, "i want to see if i can get these to light up if i hold it up towards the tesla coil."

"the big tesla coil?" i ask, a little apprehensively.

"Yep," she says, wide-eyed and nodding like a bobble-head, excited by the magnificence of her idea. "I was thinking that, if it worked, we could bring out this box each hour and let our guests hold the lightbulbs during the lightning storm."

"Umm..." i said, looking for something more polite than "bitch, are you crazy?" and settling for "i don't think that's such a good idea. you're gonna have to stand WAY too close. it's dangerous."

"No it's not," she says, still nodding and smiling. "C'mon, let's go," she says, turning to go.

follow, thinking, well, she's not taking no for an answer, maybe she'll chicken out before it gets too crazy. so, we get to the tesla coil and she pulls out a short bulb (what a 'tard) and holds it out over the rail. standing about two feet away from the rail, but extending the bulb over it.

"are you sure about this," i asked, pausing before unlocking the door. "we have our guests stand at least two feet from the rail for a reason--it's 600, 000 volts."

"it's okay," she said, getting a little uppity and agitated with my insubordination, "now go turn it on."

this is where it becomes morally compromising...everything i knew about the whole thing told me that it was a terrible and extremely dangerous idea...but she was so insistent, and so eager to be an idiot, that i felt like obliging her was just the thing to do. i flipped the switch and waited for the worst.

nothing happened. so, she got closer. i flipped the switch, nothing happened. she told me to leave it on, and she proceeded to get the longest bulb from the box and approached the railing until she was less than one foot from it, with the bulb extended about 2 feet shy of the neon bulbs hanging from the ceiling. i turned it off, i just couldn't watch anymore.

so, then she says, "i know why it didn't work," and goes scurrying off to the power station. meanwhile, i'm sitting on the box with the switches, with a bit of a cold sweat starting to form on my face. i'm realizing that i seriously could have been responsible for electrocuting her, but i didn't really feel all that bad about it. i wouldn't have felt personally guilty so much as complicitly guilty...but, still.

she came bounding out of the power station, with a plastic stool in hand. "i needed an insulator!" she exclaimed.

"i really don't think we should--" i said, but she cut me off.

"just flip the switch," she said, plopping the stool down about a foot from the railing and climbing onto it and sticking out the bulb.

flipped the switch. bulb lit up. she was happy. i was getting kind of sick.

"it worked!" she said, all proud of herself.

"it's a terrible idea," i said, trying not to be completely insulting. "i would not EVER ask a guest to do something so risky. it's ridiculous."

"yeah," she says, "i suppose you're right." then she left, carrying on in her merry, vacant way.

No comments: