It was only a lightbulb. I went out shopping to get a bright enough lightbulb so I could read without killing my eyes when I ate my oatmeal every morning. It wasn’t so much to ask for. I walked around the corner to my friendly Home Hardware where they claim to have folks just like me working there to help me with my home problems. I actually like the people who work there. The new Chinese owner hired back a bunch of the Portuguese guys who worked at the smaller store when it was a block down the street and owned by a Portuguese guy. They were neighbourhood friends by the time that store closed and I felt sad that they weren’t going to be there to help me with nuts and bolts and sandpaper and garbage bags. Then, there they were working alongside Doris and Alice, the two Chinese clerks, when the new store opened.
When I went in, I said, forthrightly, “I need a lightbulb bright enough to read by — that’s it, nothing more.” I didn’t explain about the oatmeal and the breakfast reading. Alice said, with a surety welcomed in a hardware clerk, ” You need 100 watts.” Unfortunately, the lamp I had to put it in warned me explicitly not to use anything higher than 60 watt. I have a healthy respect for what kind of dire happenings could occur if I failed to follow that warning. I imagined smoking wires and a wailing fire alarm. Alice, looked at me like somehow I was directly to blame for my lamp’s deficiency. She took me over to the lightbulb section.
She pointed, I looked. I asked what was the difference between one and the other, and, more importantly which would give me the best light. She pointed to the LED lights and said they were the best. They also were ridiculously expensive lightbulbs and said so. She shook her head and pointed to the same lightbulbs that I already had in the lamp at home that weren’t bright enough. At this point, she just walked off tired of my indecision. I was left on my own to decide between LED or CFL or filament or Halogen which promised they contained no mercury. It was all too confusing. One of the Portuguese guys came up and I asked him what he thought. He shrugged too and said that it seems like every day they get a different kind of lightbulb. This was not helping me at all.
I picked up a box of the ridiculously expensive LED lights. In print too small to read so I was guessing at what all the symbols meant, I gleaned that this little lightbulb was going to save me a bunch of money on my electric bills and, here, was the best part, it was going to last me for 22 years! Imagine that, 22 years! I went up to the counter to get this verified.
“Will this lightbulb really last me for 22 years?”
Alice took the box from me and pointed to the words, “Lasts 22+ years.”
I wanted something more so she said, “It will surely last you 22 years if you never use it.” I watched her face to see if she was joking — she wasn’t.
I queried why I would spend all this money on a lightbulb and not use it? It wasn’t a decorative addition to my home — it was to go give forth light.
She just shrugged — she is very good at that, actually.
Doris, who was listening to the conversation, sprang to the computer and checked out the site for Philips. She came back and told me that it would last me 25,000 hours. I am not good at spot calculating but I was pretty sure that would not get me to 22 years. So I guess the truth was somewhere between Alice’s not using it at all and Doris’ 25,000 hours.
I couldn’t bring myself to go back to the lightbulb section and start all over again. I bought the lightbulb. It does give me a nice glow to read by and isn’t that why I bought it in the first place?
But, actually, it’s kind of weird to buy something now that may very well be lighting my page for the rest of my life! Hmm, that certainly puts a slap of reality on things. I think maybe I’ll have to add it to my lists of bequests in my will just in case I haven’t used up all the 22 hours by then.