“There was a buzzing noise and then it wouldn’t work.”  The kid with the pierced nose and plugs in his earlobes stood dejectedly with amplifier-head in hand and told me his story.  His heavy metal band had been rocking out at a very loud jam session in the garage when disaster overtook them.  I was afraid to learn of what transpired after the buzzing and ceasing-operation part of the event, but I encouraged him to go on.  “Did you unplug it and bring it right in?”  It was no surprise when the young man sheepishly (How does one look like a sheep with a large piece of rubber in one’s earlobe?  One might well ask…) revealed to me that they had not chosen that path.  “We figured that the fuse had blown, so we put in another one.”  I suggested hopefully, “The same size, right?”  No such luck.  “Well, we just pulled one out of another amp that was sitting there.  When we turned it back on, it buzzed again and then smoke poured out of it.  It smelled awful!”

I checked the fuse and found that the little glass and metal device was marked 10 amps.  The notation beside the socket said to use a “2 amp Slo Blo replacement fuse”.  They had inserted a fuse that took five times the current which would make it fail into a circuit which had already blown out the standard sized one, thereby guaranteeing extensive damage to the rest of the amplifier components.  No wonder the young man was standing there looking “mutton-headed”.  Again and again, I have told my customers that if a fuse blows, there is something wrong with the unit, not with the fuse.  The vast majority of them still believe that the fuse is at fault, when it is actually the only thing saving them from having a much bigger problem.

Warning signs.  Why do we ignore them?  The little yellow light next to the fuel gauge came on in the Lovely Lady’s car this afternoon.  What do you think we’ll do about it?  Pull out the bulb and replace it?  Check the relay that sends current to that bulb?  No, of course not!  I’ll take the car to the gas station and spend an inordinate amount of money to put more fuel in the tank.  The light tells me that I’ve already ignored the other warning sign, the gauge itself, for too long.  Disaster is imminent.  The correct response is not to attempt repairs on the warning system, but to remedy the situation with actions which will avert the disaster.

How many times have we read of lethal fires in homes where the homeowner has smoke alarms installed, but they are sitting with almost dead batteries in them and the leads disconnected.  Oh, you’ve experienced the annoyance.  You were sitting in your easy chair and you heard a “beep”.  Moments later, the sound was repeated.  When you finally responded and looked for the source, you realized that the battery in the alarm was low.  How did you respond?  If you were smart, you inserted a new battery and forgot about it for another year or so.  If you weren’t so far-sighted, you just reached up and took the wires loose from the battery and promptly forgot about it for whatever length of time it took you to notice it again.  Well obviously, the battery being connected was causing the problem, so you cured that dilemma. That is, unless the genuine disaster occurred and then the absurdity of the so-called solution would have been revealed.

We’re surrounded by warning signs which we ignore at our peril.  Open doors which we left locked should be a warning of an intruder, not a sign of a defective lock.  Incoherence and loss of memory in a normally astute person should prompt us to call 911, not simply to disparage the lack of intelligence in the loved one.  A child who tells us that they have a tummy ache probably doesn’t need a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.  Most of us would not miss these signs, but we miss others which are just as, if not more, important, all the time.  In our personal relationships, in our private lives, we ignore the most obvious of signs and we lose our way.   I’m not going to tell you the alarms which I have going off with frequency in my life, because you’ll just be able to gloat that you don’t have those to deal with.  I’m also not going to speculate on yours; that would just give me cause to feel superior since they wouldn’t be my struggle.  Instead, I’ll invite you to think about the warning signs present in your life right now.  If you stop a minute and consider, you’ll know the ones I’m talking about.  Pay attention to them.  They may save your life, may save your marriage, may just keep you from shaming yourself.

The alarms are not the culprit; they simply let you know that something is wrong.  Today, I will be thankful for, and pay attention to, blown fuses and low fuel lights.  There just might be one or two others I’ll be heeding, as well.

“The first bringer of unwelcome news hath but a losing office…”
(“Henry IV”~William Shakespeare~English playwright~1564-1616)

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”
(My mother, along with a few others)

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