Posted by: kcgadiyar | November 28, 2009

Updated – The Handymen: A late night misadventure

The following is the 100% truth, because sometimes the stupid things we actually do are better fodder for posts than any fictional scenario we can ever create.

You know the “make a mountain out of a molehill” thing, well keep reading.

The time: 10 PM on 28th November, Me and Shishir had just got back after watching “A Christmas Carol” (which has great looking 3D effects and is worth a watch just for that). I went to insert the mosquito repellent in the plug, but it didn’t go in. Upon further inspection, i found that a connector pin from my heating element was still stuck in the plug. Normally, in such a case, we (Me and Shishir) would wait for the next day and call an electrician. But, we were in a testing mood. Little did we know the hijinks to follow.

First thing we realized was that the main power switch was still on. Luckily before either of us was electrocuted, we switched the mains off. The problem now was that we did not have a “tester”, so despite the mains being off, neither of us were willing to touch the wire to confirm that there was no current flowing through it. If we had a tester, our work would have lasted all of 10 minutes, but as it so happens, it was almost 45 minutes later when we finally finished.

So, the lack of a tester was the first problem to overcome. Seeing how there were 3 other houses in the building, I went knocking on doors at 10:20 at night (and keep in mind that we have never spoken to any of the other people in our apartment so far during our stay). Unfortunately, it turned out that none of our neighbours had a tester either. Also, our neighbours did not seem to know we lived in the building, strange.

Now, since the mains were off, we had at our disposal a screwdriver, an emergency lamp and our Macgyver like brains.

Tool of the trade

We proceeded to remove the plug coverings and infact the entire switchboard coverings till the switchboard looked like this:

A switchboard methodically taken apart

So the only thing left now was to remove the connector from the plug without ever touching the plug for fear of electrocution

Attempt 1 to dislodge the offending connector from the plug point. Weapon of Choice: Ball Point Pen Refills. We stuck the refills into the connector which was stuck in the plug and tried pulling it out. This idea kind of worked till the nib of the refills broke and we ended up with a new problem, the nib was now stuck inside the connector which was stuck inside the plug (and i am not making any of this up)

Attempt to remove the nib from inside the connector which is stuck inside the plug.: Weapon of choice – Ear Buds. Yes, Johnson and Johnson ear buds to the rescue, we managed to remove the nib out quite easily using the cotton at the end of the ear buds. We thought, maybe the same technique can be used to remove the connector as well, but that didn’t work out.Instead we dismantled the complete switchboard till only the skeleton of the plug was left. If we had used our hands at this point, we would have been done. But again, being too scared (I really should have paid more attention in those Electrical engineering classes), we had to find a way around again.

Attempt 3. Weapon of choice: Cloth pins. This was now a sight to be seen. 2 guys huddled over one plug with cloth pins. One pin gripping the plug and one pin gripping the connector which was stuck inside. Despite our best efforts the connector still refused to budge.

Not Pictured: An actual useful tool for removing connector pins stuck inside plug points.

Now we were getting frustrated. We decided to take the plug apart completely. Carefully making sure that we don’t touch the wire (the mains are still off at this point) we remove the offending plug pin out. Then using a piece of cloth and our teeth, we finally remove the connector pin which was stuck.

And there was much rejoicing

So, I attempt to connect the pin back to the heating element, and lo and behold, it doesn’t fit. After all this work, the pin refuses to fit the plug. Can you believe it. So, at the end of it all, we are left with a conspicuous hole where the plug used to be, a heating element which still doesn’t work, and the below:

Collateral Damage

So tomorrows to-do list:

– Buy a tester, for the love of god (Make that 4 testers, gift one each to the neighbours)

– Buy a new heating element

– Get the number of a good electrician.

– Learn if there is any way that current can flow through a wire when the mains are off.

Until Next Time,



Update from Sunday: Went out, bought a tester and a new heating element. Came back, used the tester and refitted the whole plug only to find that the new heating element is HV wire, so it needs a corresponding HV plug point. All the effort was basically a moot point.

Even better, i decide to clean my shelf after close to 4 months after all this, and the very first thing i find while cleaning is, wait for it, a tester. Fate has a crazy sense of irony.



  1. omg – much fun was had?
    unfortunately, i have been thru such misadventures countless times
    (the restless curious mischievous mind :P)

  2. Haha Late Night adventures of dangerous proportions!

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