Friday, January 04, 2008

A Fault And Battery

I Won’t Weasel Out Of This One

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

On the face of it, the request was simple. It was Boxing Day and the toddler, the only daughter of our visitors from overseas, needed a battery put into her new toy. Santa had brought her, among other gifts, a lifelike weasel that constantly chased a green-and-orange ball that was about the size of a grapefruit.

Battery? Yeah, mate, no worries at all. So I produced a screwdriver of the appropriate size and the toddler’s father applied himself to the task. About half an hour later I noticed he was still trying to open the battery compartment. By this time he was frowning and yes, he was perspiring a bit. You see, it’s summer here and yes, the pressure was squarely on him.

You ever tried telling a toddler that you’ll have a battery in the toy in a split-second?

So when he asked me to assist in the precision-based operation, I was more than equal to the task. I can do that sort of thing standing on my head. But five minutes later (okay, so maybe it was ten minutes later) the toddler’s father and I had concluded that the battery compartment was faulty.

It. Would. Not. Open.

So the toddler’s mother and aunt took the toy back to the shop. The owner listened to them and sympathetically, he snapped open the toy to see where the fault lay. In less than three seconds he had opened it without any stress, placed a battery inside and the toy was working perfectly.

When they told him that their respective husbands had complained there were no instructions with the toy, he replied the instructions were so simple that they were contained in a basic, easy-to-see diagram on the box.

Hmmmm. The toddler’s mother and aunt were aghast. Immediately, they began to apportion blame. Yes, squarely on the shoulders on the toddler’s father and me.

So they swept home in high dudgeon. Triumphantly, they told us what had transpired. And the toddler’s mother, a wise woman, made a thought-provoking comment.

"Isn’t it strange," she mused aloud, "that both your brains combined do not really add up to the power of one normal human brain."

Somehow, I don’t think she was toying with us.

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