Consider the two adapter plugs shown below. One is that which protrudes from the taillight system of a State owned 1995 Ford Explorer; the other is a State employee’s suggested “fix,” an adapter whose other end plugs into a trailer that brings fun science activities to children across town.

Right. They don’t match. But, as a State employee would later suggest to me, they’re both round and the adapter “is brand new and it’s made for a Ford,” implying that there’s no reason the solution could possibly fail. I politely volunteered that the two plugs were different, that I didn’t think this would work. I got no response, the helpful equivalent of a lifeguard watching from her perch while the non-swimmer gurgles below the surface.

Back from a great vacation and a greatly needed break, I hadn’t imagined that I’d be lying underneath the tail end of our substitute towing vehicle for the week, contemplating wiring arrangements and what-the-fuck? and haven’t they used this for towing before? and if they did they would have run into this problem before? Being back from vacation, I hadn’t imagined that I’d be in the doctor’s office trying to understand why stomach pains keep coming back and that it’s probably anxiety though we should drop a camera down there and see if there are other things to treat. But we adapt. And when the adapters don’t fit, we find ourselves lying underneath the tail end of the State owned vehicle and we pull out a pocket knife, wire strippers, and electrical tape. A few years ago, I may have pounded my fist in the bumper in frustration, but today I serenely and decidedly and irreversibly cut, strip, and reconnected. (I’d never before contemplated the idea that seniority gets you more than just freedom academically, but also mechanically.)

And what do you know? It works. Vandalizing the State-owned vehicle and the State-owned adapter and connecting green to green, white to white, yellow to yellow, and black to black was surprisingly and satisfyingly straightforward, and the results are 100% what you’d want them to be: left turn, right turn, and brake lights all function completely. Sometimes things take more than a quick adaptation. Sometimes we just need to strip some wires and remove the very adapters that are supposed to be helping, because they’re just getting in the way.


One thought on “adaptability

  1. I've been laughing so hard after reading this. The phrase "vandalizing the State-owned vehicle and the State-owned adapter" did it for me.

    I don't know why the film "V for Vendetta" came to mind.

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