The Voles Of Wrath

Vole (from Wikipedia)Greetings all and welcome once again to Steve's Weekly Column Of Paper-Based Planning and Electrical Safety. As I'm sure is obvious to anyone who reads this column on a regular basis, I pride myself on being clear, cogent and well-organised, but I'm afraid Doug's right. I was a little unclear last night when I phoned him up to tell him that my column wouldn't be ready. I thought that I had given him a fairly complete picture of the situation, but in fact, as I look back on it, due to the anxiety of the situation, it probably came out something like:

"Voles, no power. Smoke, firemen, no column. Smoke voles!!"

In retrospect, I can see why he was a bit confused. In fact, what happened was this: We smelled a funny smell in the basement and couldn't track it down. It didn't smell exactly like burning, nor exactly like anything else that we could identify. Mum's best friend said that she once had a small family of voles (mouse-like creatures with long noses) get into her basement and die. After some considerable humming and hawing, we settled on a working theory that this was what was happening in our house, that a vole or some other small mammal had infiltrated the domicile, gotten into the walls somehow and died and what we were smelling was it's mortal remains. Despite an extensive vole hunt, we failed to turn up the culprit, and since the smell was contained to one room in the basement, we decided to live with it.

Now, the interesting thing is that I was planning to write a column on how intuitives often do silly things, following up on Da's personality type column from Wednesday. Since our house currently contains two intuitives, Dad and I (plus one sensor, Mum), our response to the crisis actually fits in quite well to the concept of intuitives doing silly things. Read on.

Da and I were on the way home in the car last night from the city, working out ideas for today's column as we went. He was just relating a story he'd heard from a boat rental businessman about some guy who rented a boat and took four anchors, using one anchor each night and then cutting it free, and who radioed on the fifth day, wondering about another anchor, when my cell rang. It was Mum, sounding understandably a bit anxious, saying that the power had just gone out and that she could smell smoke. We headed straight home, speculating all the way about what might be happening. Now, being practical, down-to-Earth people, Dad and I came up with some good solid ideas about what might be happening.

"Good Lord," I said, "there must be a gigantic vole chewing on the power box!"

"Don't be silly." replied Da. "It might not be a vole."

When we arrived home, we found the house in darkness and smelling vaguely of smoke. Now, I don't want to over-state the situation. There wasn't billowing smoke and flames everywhere, but a brief investigation showed that the electricity wasn't working anywhere in the house, there was smoke in basement, and the power box was heating up. Now, even impractical people such as Da and myself realised that these were not good signs and that something was probably wrong with the power box. This was confirmed by our neighbour, Carl, an extremely sensing, practical man, who's also quite the handyman. Carl's the one we usually go to for help when --in an intuitive spasm-- one of us has painted outselves into a corner, got the lawnmower seized up, or locked ourselves in our bedroom in the middle of changing the lock hardware (to be fair, that only happened once). Anyway, Carl was there when we got home and confirmed our suspicions about the fuse box.

"That's not right," he said.

Everyone wants to feel useful, and after we phoned the fire department, the electric company, several electicians and a priest, we had a while to wait for everyone to show up. I felt at that point that I wasn't exactly pulling my weight, practicality-wise. Often in a crisis situation, the opposite side of my personaliity comes out for brief spurts and I become extremely practical, sensing and organised and I can take charge of the situation, but this hadn't happened this time and it was bothering me. I had suggested phoning my best friend's father, a retired fireman (and he had put us on the right track), but since then my contribution to the operation had been negligable. Da had gone to the basement by himself to check the power box a couple of times. I felt that it wasn't necessary for both of us to go into the dark, smokey basement, inasmuch as --should he get electrocuted-- one of us practical males needed to remain operable, to retain control of the situation. This being the case, I let Da head down into the dark, smokey basement alone and remained upstairs in the relatively well-lit kitchen to wait by the phone and otherwise keep an eye on that part of the house. I had begun to think of the kitchen as the command centre for the operation.

Nevertheless, as I say, I felt that I should be doing more, so as we all three stood outside, having temporarily relocated our command centre to the front lawn, and waited for the firmen, the power company man, the electrician, the Father, several neighbours and Santa Claus to arrive, I felt it was time to reassert myself, to make a helpful, practical move to restore some sense of order to the situation. Sizing up our problems and immediate needs, I determined what would be the best use of my time. I mustered every organisational ounce in my body and offered,

"Why don't I go get us some chickenburgers?"

To be fair, one does have to eat (first order of survival and all that), but the rest of the team felt that it was not our top prioirity. Mum, being the only practical one in the family, sized up the situation and quickly prioritized our actions and started to organize things as best she could.

"Better tell Carl to come and get his turkeys out of our freezer," she said. We had determined by that point that it wasn't a vole, but there was no point taking a chance with any animals.

In the end, it turns out that it wasn't a vole at all, but the main circuit-breaker in the fuse box had worn out over 30 years and slowly burned and eventually gone (to use the technical term) KPWREUDF!!! This is where we found ourselves last night, when, in one last ditch attempt to do something useful, I phoned up Doug and explained that we had no power and wouldn't for some time and that therefore my column would not be in on time. He seemed a little confused, so a few minutes later, I phoned back with an update on the situation.

"Voles! No power, column, smoke. Bad! Vole power!"

Once again, you can't fight your type. Until next week, keep your pen on the page and a candle on hand.

Steve Sharam
p.s. If you're interested in more on personality type and how to take control in serious situations, take a look at Da's ever-growing, often duplicated, never imitated personality type workshop on

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