Tuesday, November 8, 2005

The death of the fax

But we did have a small tragedy here, this week. It related to electricity, in fact.

Johann was here, fixing the security cameras and setting up the tvs with the cable company.

“Here, fill out this application for DSTv and we can fax it in.” This was to sign up with satellite tv.

“Oooo. Fax. Hmmm. I’m not sure I can fax it, but let me go plug in the machine and we can try.”

I couldn’t get a line out of the house. Strange dial tone (another thing about a new country, you don’t know a normal dial tone from one that’s telling you to drop dead, piss off, and/or hang up... and that, in no particular order.)

“Ok, now I’ve got a dial tone. Plug in the machine,” said Johann.

I plugged it in. The keypad lit up, and then went out again. Suddenly, the machine was making a strange buzzing noise.

“Why’s it doing that? What’s wrong?” Johann scratched his head.

“I don’t know. It’s not how it usually sounds.”

A strange fried electronics smell began to be apparent....

“Oh my god. I blew it! I blew its brains out. I cooked the fax!”

Johann looked puzzled.

“110 volts in America? 220V here? Johann, I plugged it in to a 220 socket, but didn’t use a transformer! I forgot! It’s toast! I’ve killed it! Ai yi yi! So stupid!!”

Johann laughed. “Why do they make converter plugs like this?” He pointed to the plug adapter that had allowed me to plug my American appliance into a South African power point. “It’s dangerous and it doesn’t make sense!”

I said, “Well, sometimes it’s useful, for electronics things that can use either level of voltage.”

Johann grinned and said, “Ah well. You Americans! You’re so clever. We South Africans could never make sense of all that!”

“Such self-deprecatory humour, you South Africans have!” I replied, laughing.

It took me another full five minutes to realize that he was having me on. I’m so SLOW sometimes! After all, who was such the clever one today? Not the American. No, not really. Duhhhhh!

That Johann, what a smart arse!

(I think I’ll have him back again, sometime....)

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