We all have those fun, carefree memories of careening down giant plastic slides as children, laughing giddily as our hair begins to stick on end through our repeated contact with that industrial-strength plastic. We shocked our siblings with one touch of our little fingers, pretending to hug them when we really wanted to give them the jolt of their lives. I, too, once thought static electricity was fun and harmless; one of those crazy scientific principles we’re actually able to see in everyday life.
But not anymore.
Friends, I have a problem. As soon as the temperatures drop and I start wearing wool clothing and big black boots, a peculiar thing begins to happen: I become tremendously, crazily aware of my own personal force field. I’m a walking lightning strike. Sparks erupt in my wake.
I’m having a hard time understanding how I’m able to generate so much static electricity. It’s gotten so bad, I have to purposely brush against the doorway to my office with my arm every time I get up, which is about a dozen times a day. If I don’t force myself to get a shock by brushing against the metal doorframe, I run the risk of becoming a personal lightning rod when I turn out the lights in our offices — something I do many times a day (I’m going green). I can literally see blue sparks fly from my tiny, unassuming fingertips to the light switch. It’s scary. It’s painful!
I’ve linked it especially to a particular pair of boots. Trust me, I’m still going around shocking myself all day long when I’m barefoot, but when I throw on this pair of shoes for work and drag my feet across our industrial carpeting, I feel as though I’ve gotten stuck outside in a terrible lightning storm. At this very moment, the tip of my pointer finger is throbbing!
Good ol’ Wikipedia says static electricity is a term from the field of Electrostatics, whereby we are “charged” through continuous contact with other surfaces. Furthermore, so says Wikipedia, “Although charge exchange happens whenever any two surfaces contact and separate, the effects of charge exchange are usually only noticed when at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow (non-conductor/insulator).” I guess that would be my body. And we remain conductors until these static electric charges “bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge.” Unfortunately for me, they’re usually raising all of the hair on my arms and neck until I stick my little finger near a light socket. Then KAPOW! And repeat this fun about ten times a day.
I’m worried I’m incredibly flammable and getting ready to explode any day now. Not to mention when I stop to fill up my gas tank! I push my hand against the body of my car several times before even getting near that gas nozzle. I could blow my town right off the map!
Maybe I’m destined to be a superhero; this is just elementary training for my gathering super-human powers. Either way, I’m going to need a new pair of black shoes!