I understand that voltage is relative and that the hot wire in house mains is a nominal \$\pm\$ 120v in reference to the neutral wire. I also believe the ground wire is connected to the neutral at the breaker box and then connected to a metal stake driven into the ground. So here's my question:
If the hot wire was to connect to the frame of an appliance like a toaster let's say, and the toaster frame was not grounded, what happens when I touch the metal frame of the toaster, I don't understand why that is a dangerous situation. I mean, I don't see the circuit path. If the hot is say at 120v above neutral (at that moment in time) and neutral is connected to ground at the power box so the hot is therefore 120v above earth ground, how am I involved even if I am well connected to the earth (standing in water for example)? My mind says this, the current flows from hot to the short at the frame of the toaster to me to earth but I am nowhere near the metal stake in my yard and so how is the circuit complete? So I really have two questions:
Q1: Is there a completed circuit here that I just don't understand?
Q2: Does the frame of the toaster have some build-up of charge that is in excess of a neutral body and therefore imparts a discharge like a source to a sink (even if that neutral body was floating off of the surface of the earth)?
Actually, I have one more question. How does the ground wire protect someone from this situation inasmuch as I don't see the circuit path in it anymore than I see it when I am the "ground wire".