Monday, December 12, 2005

Electric teacher

It's that time of year again, when I am always embarrassing myself by shrieking and and leaping in the air and dropping things.

It is DRY, and I have become electric.

I know it seems that I spend half of the year complaining about how humid it is and the other half complaining about how dry it is, but there is a reason for this. It IS. Dry, I mean. And humid. If you calculated the average humidity for the year here it would probably be ideal. Unfortunately it is very rarely average, and right now it is fantastically dry.

I demonstrated this today in one of my classes. I walked in, carefully using my little deelectrifier thingy on the metal door so I wouldn't get zapped.

"What's that?" asked my students, and I explained. They learned a new word: static electricity, which I wrote on the board. I demonstrated how my little gadget lit up when I touched it to the door. They were impressed, and wanted to try it. When they did, nothing happened. Apparently I am the only one who comes to the classroom fully charged.

I went over to the air conditioner control box to turn it down a little. It was cold out, but stifling in the room. I reached out my finger to hit the button and a spark jumped the gap. I leaped and shrieked. The students gasped.

"What happened?" they asked.

"Static electricity," I said, succinctly, indicating where I'd written it on the board.

"Doesn't it work?" they asked, pointing at the gadget, which was in my other hand.

"Yes. It works," I snapped. "I just didn't use it."

I took two steps to the video cabinet and unlocked the door. As I bent down to pick up the remote control I was zapped by the cabinet itself, which is made of metal. I did the leap and shriek thing again, and turned to face the students. They were staring, fascinated.

"But I touched the cabinet when I opened the door, and nothing happened!" I wailed indignantly. "Why did it only zap me when I touched the shelf? And I just grounded myself on the control for the air conditioner! And it was only TWO STEPS! How could I work up another charge that quickly?"

"Eh?" they said. I had gone beyond their comprehension. Babbling isn't in the textbook.

"Oh, never mind," I said. "Does this happen to your other teachers?"

"No," they said. You could see them thinking, It's a gaijin thing. Gaijin are weird.

I put the video in. The sun was streaming in through the windows so I paused the video and closed the blinds. Then the fluorescent lights were reflecting in the TV monitor, so I decided to turn them off. I walked over to the light switch. As I hit the switch I did the shriek and leap thing again.

I turned and stared at the students. They weren't laughing so I didn't kill them. In fact they seemed to think the whole thing was terrifically serious, and quite frightening.

"Why don't you use it?" asked one, frowning and pointing, and I looked down at the gadget in my other hand. "Because I am EXTREMELY STUPID," I didn't say.

"I keep forgetting," I said. "Usually it's just the door that gets me. And the chalkboard ledge. Aren't the light switches plastic?"

"No," she said, and I corrected her to, "Yes." (Negative questions always get them.) She added, "Your face is red." They all nodded, solemnly amazed. I knew my face was red. I could feel it. I was lit up like a stop sign.

I decided I didn't feel like dredging any more language teaching out of this, and started the video. I might be the only electric teacher they have, but enough is enough. It is possible to be too entertaining.

Besides, it was making me grumpy.


Cheryl said...

So with you on this!
But it does depend which shoes I am wearing (unless I'm on acrylic carpet).

I have one pair of synthetic soled shoes (Eco shoes - ever so comfortable) that I can't even wear to vacuum my own house.

Leather soled shoes for Christmas?

Wiccachicky said...

It's terribly dry here lately too. I use a ton of lotion each morning in hopes to improve my tight and itchy skin.

Faerunner said...

Dry here too. Plastic bathroom stalls are death to long hair - you walk in and suddenly the static that seems to magically collect on plastic things sticks your hair to the wall. And you come out looking like a puffball.

Odious said...

To steal a joke, it is useless to be a resistor.

Badaunt said...

It doesn't seem to matter WHAT shoes I wear. One time I was teaching an electrical engineer at the company where he worked, and he experimented with me and the coffee machine (which zapped me regularly and painfully). Rubber soles, plastic slippers, barefoot - it didn't matter. ZAP!

He thought it was funny, but at least taught me the trick of placing my hands flat on the floor immediately before touching the machine. That worked. The only problem was embarrassment. The numerous other workers there, who didn't know of my problem (or solution) thought I had some weird religion that required me to bow down before coffee machines.

Wikkachicky: I use Squalane oil under moisturiser in winter. It really helps, especially on slightly damp skin. My skin soaks up the stuff - doesn't feel oily at all even after I've slathered it on.

Paula said...

That's hilarious! Sometimes I'm all "charged up," too, but it hasn't been so bad lately. Maybe it's my more $$$ shampoo.

carrie said...

I about dropped the baby in the grocery store yesterday I got such a bad shock on one of the shelves. I know the shocks don't ever feel good, but that one was downright painful! It's very dry here and I am sick of shocking everything. I had this problem last winter too and couldn't even kiss my husband without getting a huge shock on the lips.

So Japanese people don't get static electericity? How can that be? It seems like it would be a universal probllem.

Wendy said...

I'm also terribly static but only in certain Johannesburg I would shock myself constantly...just as you described. But then Joburg is at a high altitude (1800m) and very very dry, in winter especially. I rarely have the problem here in France.

It's funny to read but I know it's not so funny to experience.