Monday, November 3, 2008


As a preface, I'd like to say that I've been unable to glean any kernel of wisdom or lesson from the following account, it's just a weird freaking thing that happened to me while gardening. In that respect, I guess it could serve as a reminder that weird freaking things happen to people in all professions all over the world every day. There you go: weird sh*t happens, so I guess just enjoy the weird sh*t that doesn't kill you.

A rainy, dismal day, as most are wont to be this time of year in the pacific northwest; this one happened to be Halloween. I've never held this holiday in any high regard as I was religiously discouraged to do so from an early age, so I've never been on the lookout for any additional perils metaphysical, corporeal or otherwise. Nevertheless, had this incident culminated fully it would have been an appropriately ghastly end to my days.
The problem started, as many do, with poor drainage. It is our onus to keep the sundry pots, containers and planters of our clients beautiful through the seasons, despite every effort of these same clients to destroy our work through negligent watering, fundamental incomprehension of soil chemistry, and reckless disregard for photosynthetic fuel (I'm talking sunlight here folks; even Coleus won't grow in a cave). On the property of a corporate client, there is an enormous pot that does not drain. It does not drain because it has two pea-sized holes in the bottom that were long ago plugged up by coiled pine roots and landscape fabric that someone saw fit to place inside the pot (do not do this; I cannot think of any reason why you would ever do this). During our fall replanting of this pot, we decided to remove all of the potting soil and solve the drainage problem once and for all. The pot is located in a planter bed in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by rather expensive cars, so the only way to remove the soil was scoop by scoop with a small-headed shovel (I refuse to call it a lady-shovel). I did this cheerfully enough, considering the cramped quarters and generally unpleasant nature of the task, all the while standing drenched in the aforementioned bed. When finally we had enough soil removed to access the bottom, my coworker heaved the pot up on its bottom rim so I could get a look underneath. Dropping to my knees, I planted both my hands on the ground to support me as I bent to inspect the bottom. Now for any non-gardeners out there, I cannot over-emphasize how ridiculously commonplace this pose is when gardening; I spend a good 80% of any given day on my hands and knees, and I would estimate that I make this transition from standing to all-fours around 100 times a day. This will help you imagine the feelings of confusion and betrayal I felt when I planted my gloved hands on terra firma and immediately felt both arms go tingly-numb, like I had somehow lost track of time and accidentally fallen asleep on top of them for a good 30 minutes in the midst of shoveling potting soil. Vaguely thinking that I had miraculously and simultaneously jarred a nerve or funny-bone in both arms as I leaned over (because haven't we all done that before), I just knelt there for a few seconds in confusion, feeling my arms get weaker and my face fall closer to the ground. Finally, some sort of survival mechanism kicked in and took control of my body, whose brain was too stupid to realize it was getting electrocuted; I jerked my hands off of the ground...
30 seconds later, having developed a loose hypothesis that I was in fact kneeling on an electrically active patch of ground, I touched one hand back to the ground just to be sure...
We'll just say that my hypothesis was supported by the experimental evidence and that I'm an idiot. I was rudely shocked by the very ground from which I make my living, and I don't know just how to feel about it.
Also, in case you're wondering, those blue-palmed work gloves that everyone wears offer little to no electrical insulation, especially when soaking wet.


  1. How exactly did you manage to get electrocuted by the ground? Was it some type of booby-trap set by vengeful defenders of poor drainage?

  2. WTF??? Glad you're alive to tell the tale.

    Hi, by the way. It's Aimee, wife of Nathan, friend of Iko, very occasional player of Pickleball. I really like your blog!