I’m laying in a hospital bed that night after work. It’s cold, but I hardly realize it. My blood is boiling. The starched white sheets and blankets are not dulled in the least by the bright lights bouncing off the similarly colored walls, and a TV was playing some God-awful nighttime soaps. I’m hooked up to monitors that beep and bop and remind me of why I am here.
I’m doing the fancy manager thing. A clipboard is positioned between my hand and crook of the elbow, rustling through the papers in it with my free hand. I look the part. Standing with authority, barely glimpsing at what is happening around me. I have crossed my store with its shabby gray carpet and shelving. Muted tones of light release from the windows at the front of the store, but they are all but lost in the sea of gray.
My employees are behind the counter, my destination. Both are working with their own customer with apparent smiles. I don’t look at them. The tall one would be smiling, but the short one wasn’t now. He’d be concentrating based on his tone of voice. I near the counter and hold my breath. That short employee would be sent out back after he finishes serving. His BO permeates well outside the space he is in. As I walk past him, my mind is focused on the numbers, though. All those tiny little digits on those pages didn’t add up.
Then Bang! Zap! Buzzzz!
What the hell was that?
I shudder. A magnified static shock travels through my arm.Goosebumps prickle atop my skin. It’s an unnatural feeling that settles from my arm down to my toes. I shake my arm trying to stop the pins and needles from getting stronger.
Then I look left and see smoke. In the palm of the short employee’s hand is a cheap multimeter (voltage tester). It’s exploded!
The doctor explains to me that it’s just a precaution. My father dying a year before meant I was at risk of heart disease. My irregular heart beat might have come from him, but it could have come from the electric shock too. I will be staying my first night in the hospital.
Yay… I wonder if they will give me access to change the TV now.
My employee drops the multimeter and shakes his hand. I examine it for any signs of first aid, but he says it barely hurts. Just felt a stung, but now it’s gone.
The customer he’s serving says something about being sorry and asks for her power cable back.
Then I realize what has happened. “Did you just plug a $10 multimeter into a powered 240 volt power supply to test it?” I can’t actually mask my utter annoyance at him.
“Yeah? I do it all the time.”
Oh… My…. God…..
Hubby arrives after I get the news. He brings me a book and a 3DS so I won’t be bored.
Hubby grinds his teeth and growls out, “I’m going to kill him next time I see him.”
I don’t rest. I keep going. A customer comes in, and they are more of a priority than me. I serve them. All the while I’m distracted by the stupidity of it all.
The multimeter was not meant to handle that kind of voltage. He had put it into a clover leaf power supply to “test it” for the customer. But we are not electricians. Nor should we be acting like ones. Ever.
By four, I am finally a little slow and prepare my incident report. We both feel fine. Just the initial shock is all we felt. I check the camera footage and find out more. My elbow touched his elbow the moment he put the needles into the supply. It exploded as soon as he did, and the shock grounded through me instead of him.
We’re both lucky to be alive.
I file my report and receive an immediate call from Health & Safety. We are both to go to a doctor to confirm we are fine. An investigation will commence as well.
I leave the hospital the next day. It turns out my heart beat is naturally irregular. I go home feeling more annoyed than concerned. I return to work that same day.
A day later, a memo is released to all stores. Because of my employee, a new rule is made. No testing of products for customers. We are not electricians. Leave that work to the professionals.
I don’t know… I feel like maybe that was a lesson we shouldn’t have had to learn.