The Extension Cord Debacle


Mom wanted her phone to sit on her desk we’d just brought into the house and said to me: We need to buy a longer phone cord.” I showed her that we needed a longer electric cord or an extension cord. After arguing with me for a couple of minutes, she understood. Next up was explaining that the electrical cord was proprietary to the phone. This argument only took 20 seconds. We took the electric cord, complete with transformer, to Radio Shack. As predicted, the kind clerk sent us to Ace for an extension cord because Radio Shack does not stock old Panasonic phone accessories, particularly not on the Island.
Once at Ace I located an extension cord and shims to level the desk. Back to the house we went. I unpacked the extension cord only to find that it wouldn’t take a grounded plug. Who knew anyone made such an extension cord in the 21st century? An additional benefit to deploying an extension cord for the phone is it would also run an old copying machine of mom’s that was plugged into a 50’ orange construction grade extension cord. Not the best thing for interior use, especially for someone who is a fall risk. But, the copying machine had a grounded plug.
I told mom I’d chosen the wrong cord and that we needed one with 3- ‘three prongers.’ She didn’t understand. I showed her the transformer for the phone (two prongs=not grounded) and the plug for the copy machine (three prongs=grounded), explaining again that we just needed to exchange the extension cord we’d bought for one that would accept grounded plugs. She asked if we could augment the cord we just bought, I told her we couldn’t. This did not please her. She then got it firmly stuck in her head that we needed a cord that had a mix of two and three pronged receptacles, losing the fact that the phone cord would be very happy to use a grounded receptacle. This went back and forth between us a little until she said she got it. She zipped back to town to make the exchange.
Mom came back with a single receptacle grounded extension cord. I was amazed but shouldn’t have been. I gently told her we needed at least one more receptacle and we’d be gold. She was not pleased and assured me Ace had no such thing. We decided to deal with it the next day.
As we rounded on Ace the following day, she was pissed off, saying she was simply done with this, that the store Did Not Have what I said we needed,  that surely there was a way to augment the cord we had (um, yeah, with the electric bits my dad picked up at auction a zillion years ago? I don’t think so) and that what we needed was a cord that had both grounded and ungrounded plugs and It Did Too exist! Now I was pissed. But rather than show it I walked fast to just get away. She caught up with me at the electrical aisle. Of course, all the extension cords are packaged in such a way that you have to slide a cardboard sleeve off of them to see the business end of the cord. Mom watched me do this and said: There are pictures of what the cord is supposed to be on the front of the bin. I replied that I’d worked at a hardware store and didn’t trust people’s stocking ability what-so-ever. Just as she was gearing up for an ‘I told you so,’ I looked up, and there it was: a 13’-three receptacle, grounded cord. I grabbed it, showed it to mom and said: This is what we need!” Her entire demeanor softened and her claws & prickles retracted. She smiled and said: Yes! This will do it.” She finally understood.
Once back at the house, I immediately went to install the cord. Standing between the desk and dining room table, I was about to lay the cord out when mom all but yelled at me from the other side of the table: Give That to ME!” I paused a nanosecond too long. “GIVE That to ME.” I shot back: Don’t Yell at Me.” As I handed her the cord. She plugged it into the outlet and then changed its position in the outlet. She then moved the phone’s plug to a different position in the outlet. I, working on using my calm voice, said: Mom, hand me the phone’s cord. That’s the one we’re moving… So we can put the phone on the desk.” She handed it to me. “Mom, now unplug the orange cord and hand that to me.” She did this too. I stood up and moved to unplug the copying machine from the other end of the orange cord. Just as she was about to get to some level of testy with me again (you can always tell with your mum even before they open their mouths, right?) over the orange cord, I scooped it up and asked her to wrap it up for me. It kept her occupied while I finished getting the phone and copying machine plugged in. We finished our tasks at the same time. Once again, prickles and claws were retracted. Her phone was on her desk, she was a happy camper.
I said to mom: Let’s go pick some apples. And so we did.

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