Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kabul: Sometimes It's the Little Things... (part 4)

With Halloween coming up, I was a bit behind the curve getting my costumes arranged.  A sucker for the classics, though, I decided to go with my usuals - vampire and werewolf - for the two nights of parties I had lined up.

In the case of the werewolf, I needed to find some hair to use.  I had missed my chance to order fake fur online or to get a clump of wool from the vendors at the bazaar, but there was one other option that came to mind.  There is a store on the compound that makes and sells fur coats, and I popped in to see if they had anything I could use.

"Do you have a scrap of fur I could buy?" I asked the man.  "I need to cut it up and glue it on my face."

"I think so," the man answered quizzically.

He walked behind the counter and produced a scrap of mink, about the size of a mouse pad.

"What about this one?" he asked.

Unfortunately, the hair was quite short, and I needed something with longer pile.

I raked my hand across the fluffier coats in the shop - beaver, rabbit, and (ugh!) raccoon.

"Anything like these?" I asked.  "It's needs to be a bit long so I can cut it."

The man was still looking puzzled.

"I'm trying to be a wolf-man for Halloween," I continued.

"Oh," the man said with a twinkle in his eye.  "Maybe this will work!"

He pulled out a whole silver fox tail.  It was roughly 18 inches long (46 cm), and it was beautiful.

"Perfect!" I responded.  "How much?"

"It's on the house," he told me, "for a good cause."

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thanked the man and left.  As promised, I did indeed cut up the tail, and my costume was well received at the party.

The next morning, I returned to the fur shop, bearing a small token of appreciation.

"Here's a picture from last night," I told him.  "Thanks again for your help."

The man's mouth widened into a Cheshire cat grin.

"I'm gonna put this on my wall!" he told me.

The photo might have since come down, but I guess my werewolf self got its 15 minutes of fame.


Needing to make a fat stack of color copies on short notice and having no suitable equipment for the job in my office, I ventured to a neighboring building on the compound.  I went to the customer support unit, where there was indeed a color copier.  As luck would have it, though, the CSU was transitioning to another space that day, and the copier was unplugged, ready to be moved.

"Can I use this?" I asked one of the guys.

He walked over and had a look.

"We'll need an adapter to make it work," he told me.

I walked away to look for other options, but I was still within earshot as the man rummaged through his desk drawer for an adapter.

A moment later, I heard something peculiar.

"Sir, there's a problem!" he exclaimed.

I walked around the corner, and indeed there was a problem.  Thick curls of gray smoke were flowing from the bottom of the machine.

The sheepish look on the man's face as he experienced his oh-shit moment was priceless.

I broke out laughing, which caused him to break out laughing.

He had unplugged the copier by now, but another colleague came around the corner to see what all the commotion was about.

"Did you just plug the 110 copier into the 220 outlet?" he asked.

I blame it on the fumes, for now there were three of us cracking up.  A good laugh is contagious, you know.

With smoke continuing to billow from the machine, a secondary problem came to mind.

"We need to dissipate this smoke in a hurry," I observed, "or the sprinklers are gonna kick on and flood the place."

The three of us grabbed some papers and started fanning, and still none of us could keep a straight face.  Then, after a minute of determined flapping, the coast was clear.  Only the entire area now smelled like burnt popcorn.

For anyone concerned about the damage to U.S. government property, there are two things to keep in mind:  One, it was an honest mistake.  And, two, the copier seemed OK in the end.  We restarted it, this time using a transformer, and it fired up.  It turned out that the toner unit had burned out, though, so we replaced that, and I finally finished making my copies.