They look harmless enough. But appearances lie. Door handles are evil. Or rather, became evil.
About a week ago, I started getting extremely frequent bouts of being shocked by static electricity. At one point, it was so bad that I would get shocked opening the bathroom door, get shocked again turning on the faucet, and yet again opening my room door. Static shocks never bothered me too much, since apparently I’m too insensitive or something to really feel pain from them, but this was ridiculous.
What was even odder was that it just started out of nowhere. I didn’t change my outfit to something heavily wool- and nylon-based; I didn’t suddenly start vigorously rubbing my derriere on chairs whenever I sat down; I didn’t walk any more than usual. (Although, considering the fact that I probably walk more during a week in college than during a whole month at home, it’s probably a miracle that I never got shocked before.) (Also, if you’re wondering what walking has anything to do with it, a major cause of static buildup in your body is the charging of insulating material in your shoes. I had to look that up.) (Also, here’s another consecutive parenthetical statement.) There really was no explanation that I could think of for this new, annoying phenomenon. Therefore, I reached the conclusion that the door handles I kept touching had suddenly turned on me. Yes, inanimate objects can be and are innately biased against people. Take the following as examples:
- Headphones: It doesn’t matter what you try to do. Once the things go in your pocket, before you take them back out they’ll happily contort and tangle themselves in ways you didn’t even think physically possible.
- Weed (the umbrella-term-for-undesired-plants kind, not the marijuana kind): Their lives delight in making mortal enemies of homeowners and gardeners everywhere.
- Weed (the marijuana kind this time): Hemp could have become pretty much the most useful plant of all time. But cannabis decided it was too cool for that, and instead cultivated THC in itself so that it could become illegal. What kind of sadistic behavior is that?
- USB drives: When’s the last time that you tried to stick one in in your computer and it would go in the first time? You always try to do it the wrong way first.
- Coins: There’s too many of them when you don’t need any, but they magically disappear when you need to use some.
- Digital cameras: They only run out of battery when you’re taking that all-important group picture. As well as just costing you a fortune in non-rechargeables in general.
I could go on. But the point is, some things just have it in for you. I don’t know what made the door handles decide that it didn’t like me after all. But there isn’t much I can do: I’m not going to stop wearing shoes, and I’m not going to wear totally anti-static clothing. Oh, sure, there are easier ways to reduce or eliminate static shocks. I could touch door handles with my keys before I touch them with my fingers; I could rap my knuckles on them first. I don’t know about you, but if I saw someone fishing out their keys and touching a door handle with that every time, or rapping their knuckles on one, I’d think there was something wrong with them.
Fortunately, most handles have regained their senses and have stopped shocking me in the past few days. But the huge stainless steel handle at UW’s Physics/Astronomy Auditorium that I must use to get to math class has been rather stubborn. We’ll see how long it takes before it succumbs. Until then, I still say door handles have become inexplicably evil.
[Note: while researching for this post, I ran across a BBC article that listed some ways to avoid shock. One of them read: “You could try driving completely naked. Going out in public unclothed is not recommended though, and liable to get you arrested. It’s doubtful the police would believe you’re trying to prevent static build-up.” Really, BBC? And no, I didn’t insert that link. It was there to begin with.]