OK. So, it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t mean for it to happen. I had a blow-dryer, and it was not only plugged into the converter for the wall–but also into a transformer, which is supposed to make the higher voltage of European electricity work on American applicances more safely. I used the transformer all last summer in Slovenia with no problems–to charge my laptop, for my nebulizer (for asthma), etc. In fact, it’s an expensive transformer, specially purchased from a medical supply company. It weighed 2.5 lbs in my suitcase–we’re not talking a lightweight piece of crap here. I used it every single day since I’ve been here.
So, I showered, and put on my dress. Then I plugged in the blow dryer, about an hour before our opening banquet (set at the gorgeous fellows dining hall, which is recontructed to look like the inside of an ancient Greek stucture). I was ready; I’d be giving a reading after the main course was cleared (several students gave readings after each course–each written by a different famous Cambridge alum about being at Cambridge). Opening banquet: I was set to go.
I was standing in front of the mirror, using my round brush to try to straighten out my hair and flip the ends under, just like my good friend KP showed me how to do back in March (see? I do listen and learn).
Then, behind me in the mirror, I see a giant plume of almost clear gray smoke. It was coming from my nightstand, where I’d rested the transformer.
Panicking, I switched off the blow dryer and dropped my brush. Then, because it was the only sensible thing to do, I started squeaking (‘eek eek eek’) and my insides turned to mush. The transformer was smoking a LOT, a corner of my room was filling up, and a sort of black liquid was seeping out of the device. I panicked, yanked the plug out of the outlet, and ran quickly to the porter’s lodge (just next door), as the fire alarms went off.
‘Excuse me! Excuse me!’ I said, as they told me to hold on a moment–there was a fire alarm going off.
‘I know, I know!’ I said. ‘It’s in my room!’
A porter ran behind me upstairs, so I could show him what was going on (for some reason, they didn’t seem as panicked as I did), as the other porter turned the alarm off. Thankfully, there was no fire–just an awful lot of smoke, though a lot of it had stopped since I’d unplugged the device. And I have a new temporary room until the air clears (don’t want to start up any asthma issues).
Clearly, this wasn’t an ideal situation, but it’s not like I wanted it to happen–I was arguably being more cautious than ever, using a transformer rather than just a simple outlet converter. But no one was pleased with the situation (including me, really), and I felt really bad, and couldn’t really eat much at lovely formal dinner, which should have been so nice. Blah.
The dinner was nice, as is my new temporary room.
But I don’t think the porters think I’m the most awesome resident they’ve ever had.