Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Plug by Any other Name

America has the two pronged, sometimes three pronged plug. Europe has the oh-so-fun Europlug, which can be both thick and round. But Europe can also have a variation of the Europlug that is skinnier. The UK has weird, overly large square prongs. Jordan apparently couldn't decide between these magnificent specimens and chose to use all three of the latter options.

When buying electronics, it's pretty much the luck of the draw. Most will have the thick Europlug end. Some have the UK square end. No electronics have the skinny, round Europlug, which conveniently is the only socket available in our apartment.

To compensate for this, we have to buy numerous adapters and power strips. It is completely normal here to have cords with two to three different adapters stuck on the ends of them, changing things from American to Europlug to skinny Europlug. Even better, you can have American three prong changed to American two prong changed to thick Europlug changed to skinny Europlug. Another fun one is having a power strip plugged into a power strip plugged into a power strip.

All the sockets at school, however, only take the UK plugs, which I do not possess adapters for. Ma fi mushkala, as they say. My coteacher showed me the proper Jordanian way of handling such problems: you shove the Europlug haphazardly in the UK socket as far as it will go and stick a pencil in the third hole so that it will think there's a prong there. Problem solved.

Another fun twist to the plug problems here happened to Lena about a month ago. She and her roommates had just gotten a new washing machine from their landlord. They moved it into position, grabbed some dirty clothes... and discovered that their washing machine did not even have a plug. It ended in bare wires. What to do?

Why pull out another ingenious Jordanian solution, of course! Twist the wires together yourself and stick a plug on the end! Now that's a safe way to handle an electrical appliance filled with water!

As if all these problems weren't bad enough, the electrical current in Jordan is not exactly what anyone sane would call stable. We have surges, spikes, lags, you name it. Surge protectors? What are those?

It's a wonder we haven't all electrocuted ourselves into toaster strudels by now.


  1. Haha you beat me to it :) it's one on my list! I love those plugs that don't fit anywhere! The guys who make the adaptors must make a fortune :)

  2. Yes, we often joke that the guy who makes the adapters must be friends with the royal family. That's why he has a monopoly on every adapter that you MUST buy for every appliance you own!