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Staff Reporter 

So maybe there really is something to Friday the 13th

Write to the Point


I’ve never been a big believer is superstition, but now I might be.

Granted I am aware of avoiding walking under ladders and mindful when a black cat skitters across the road in front of me.

And for whatever reason, the undershirt worn beneath my hockey shoulder pads air dries after each skate, but does not hit the washer until after the season is finished. I don’t think that’s superstitious but just a matter of not permanently tainting the washing machine for all our tidy whities.

I had to be reminded that last Friday was indeed the 13th day of the month, traditionally, for more reasons than you can imagine, an unlucky date.

According to good old Wikipedia, the fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number 13.

This past Friday was cruising along just fine with a day off to tackle an arm’s length “to-do” list, including a dreaded visit to Costco. Arriving just two minutes after their 10 a.m. opening the parking lot was jammed.

With the list almost entirely crossed off it was back home to watch TV and organize a stack of files. Suddenly there was a faint click and the room went dark. Nothing to panic about here because my power provider, Avista, usually had lights back on in seconds.

Not this time.

Five minutes passed and it was time to peek outside to confirm others lost power and this outage might have been a bit more serious. But the Holmes and Martinez lights were among the many still burning brightly.

But so were the Christmas decorative candles on my front porch. Not a good sign. There was power in some parts of the house but obviously not others.

No stove or microwave but the refrigerator worked. An extension cord gave us TV so it was a tad like tent trailer camping. That formerly useless DeWalt portable light had purpose.

The call went out to a good friend, Harvard, who once made his living stringing wire, but now builds houses around it.

Saturday morning he arrived with tools and testing devices in hand. Off came the service panel cover that revealed a tangled myriad of wires coming and going every which way.

Offering that he was no longer a licensed electrician, and that any work he might do could jeopardize my insurance should the house burn down, he poked around with his voltage meter in the panel.

It was the equivalent of the quick check-up at the doctor’s office, seeing if there was the need to bring in the specialist, in this case the licensed electrician whose dollar meter can run right with that doctor.

The poking and prodding, like at the doc’s office, revealed a problem. Sure enough, of the necessary 240 volts required to power such things as a stove and clothes dryer, just half that showed up on the meter. The cause of the outage was discovered; how to fix it remained uncer-

tain, however.

With no electrician available until Monday, Harvard suggested I place a call to Avista because hopefully this might be an issue with their lines. And as customers, if that’s the case, the fix is on their dime, not my dollars.

Two hours after placing the call to an automated operator, their trucks arrived on my street. And two hours later the light in the living room came to life once again.

Jim from the Avista crew knocked on the door to my deck and presented me with a souvenir of a chunk of cable. It looked like it had ruptured, perhaps like a garden hose under too much pressure.

But power cables don’t harness pressure like a hose. Turns out, a summer fencing crew, despite doing their due diligence and calling the 811 number, had apparently nicked the underground cable with a shovel.

Moisture slowly worked its way inside and – poof, there it went, on Friday the 13th.

Perhaps there is something to fear about this day after all, but I won’t let a single strange event dictate matters. I’ll wait for Friday, June 13, 2014 first.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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