The century-long saga of the CrazyStable Electrical Service continued yesterday...but did it conclude?
To recap, here is a quick history of our troubled relationship with Mr. Edison's excellent utility:
1910 or so: CrazyStable is built. It is piped for both gas and electrical lighting, in case this whole newfangled electricity business doesn't catch on. Inside, the wiring is insulated with cloth and laid alongside the gas pipes to the lighting fixtures; between the house and the street main, it is insulated in lead ("lead sack") and buried in a pipe.
1986: Gullible and delusional young couple buy ruins of CrazyStable. Sensing danger from 70-year-old original wiring, they hire affordable "electricians" to rewire it with updated service. However, "electricians" never have job approved by Con Ed, claiming this is not necessary.
1990s: Chronically overwhelmed homeowners learn that "electricians" hooked up new service to original "service" from street main. Otherwise, job was not badly done ( if you don't count swags of exposed BX cable hanging in basement, above, along with butchery of plaster walls in every room). That's why they didn't need an inspection. Lights occasionally flicker, but go for years without event.
February, 2008: Explosion rocks CrazyStable; fire shoots out of manhole cover in front of house. We lose power, are given temporary "jumper service" through a scary wire swagged across the street from a lamp-post, and are told we must abate the chunks of asbestos pipe sleeve near the service box before the gentlemen of Consolidated Edison will enter our basement to "pull through" new service.
April, 2008: After interviewing several raving lunatics, we find a competent asbestos abatement contractor who removes the pipesleeves, HEPA-vac's the floor, and paints over the offending areas with white goo. We fax air-testing reports back and forth, and Con Ed inspects the job and declares it to be good. Supervisor Guy informs us that we will get, on Con Ed's tab, "all new service" from the street; hopefully this will not require opening street to replace damaged pipe. Manhole-sucking truck arrives to noisily suck out manholes for the second time.
Yesterday: Crew arrives. They finish the job with surprising speed and deliver the good news that the pipe was fine, they just hooked up our inside service to the existing wire at both ends. What, I say, to the "lead sack"? Weren't we supposed to get "all new service"? The supervisor guys had implied that the ancient service between house and street was part of the problem.
ALERT: UNCHARACTERISTIC FEMINIST RANT AHEAD
Ah. Now comes the interesting part of my cordial dealings with the friendly Con Ed crew: the part where the woman uses complex sentence structure, logic, and curiosity. I explain perkily that I am not challenging their nice job, no no, but I am interested in the inconsistency between what Supervisor Guy said and what they report just having done. The Con Ed guys' eyes glaze over and shift uneasily. Somebody makes a cell phone call, whose content is never disclosed. I ask again; I am told the lead sack "could last another hundred years."
And then I realize: The fellows are talking to someone else.
You see, this is me, in the basement with the Con Ed guys, talking "lead sack."
And this is who the Con Ed guys think they're talking to; why is she down here, and why does she care?
Will the ancient wires keep our lights on and our computer and fridge running for another hundred years? Stay tuned.