The latest strange occurrence began a few months ago. There are two ceiling lights in the laundry room. Suddenly, one of them didn’t light when I flipped on the switch. I groaned out loud, because if there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s changing bulbs in ceiling lights.
I grabbed a new bulb and a kitchen chair, and then climbed onto the chair. The difficult part was unscrewing the glass dome over the light and removing it without dropping it and sending shards of glass flying like miniature missiles and impaling one of the dogs.
I managed to change the bulb and screw the dome back on, then I got down off the chair and flipped on the light switch. The far light lit, but the one I’d just put the new bulb into didn’t. At that point, I figured I’d be needing an electrician – and probably a second mortgage to pay for him.
The electrician, who charged $55 just to show up, arrived a week later. He walked into the laundry room and flipped on the light switch. Both lights brightly glowed. I glared at the one that hadn’t lit, not even once, since I’d changed the bulb.
“Flip it again,” I said to the guy. “Believe me, that light right above your head hasn’t turned on in over a week.”
He flipped the switch several more times. Both lights continued to pop on, sinisterly mocking me. He checked a few things, probably just to pacify me, then said he couldn’t find anything wrong. He said that if, as I’d told him, only one light had gone out, it probably was a problem with the light itself rather than the electrical work, otherwise both lights wouldn’t have worked.
So I paid him his $105 and he left.
That night, to my relief, the problem light immediately popped on when I flipped the switch.
The other light, however, didn’t.
I actually burst out laughing because I couldn’t believe it. It was as if my ceiling lights were playing a game of musical chairs. But I wasn’t about to call the electrician again. I decided I could get along for a while with just one light.
And for a while I did. One day the far light would light. The next day the closer one would. And sometimes they both would pop on. But then only one would light again. I never knew what to expect. I found myself making mental bets every time I hit the switch.
Two weeks ago, the worst-case scenario happened. I flipped on the switch, saw a bright flash of light and then everything went dark. Neither light lit. The laundry room was thrust into complete darkness.
I was pretty certain at least one light eventually would pop back on, but total darkness remained. I tried flipping the circuit breaker. It didn’t help. So I had to do my laundry by flashlight…and by touch. And when I finally carried the clothes out to a room that actually had lights, I discovered I’d accidentally washed a couple pairs of white panties in the same load as my new green sweatshirt and turned them the color of pea soup.
That did it. The next morning I called an electrician – a different one, because I was too embarrassed to the call the first one again.
“I’m sorry,” the woman who answered said. “But our electrician is booked for the next two months.”
My first thought was, “You’re one of the biggest companies in the state, and you have only one electrician?” My second thought was, “I’d better get used to wearing a lot of pea-soup colored underwear.”
She asked me to describe the problem, probably because if it turned out to be an emergency, like bolts of lightning shooting out of the ceiling, she might have decided to send the electrician over in two weeks rather than two months.
“Sounds like a problem with the switch,” she said, in a tone that told me she wasn’t about to disrupt the electrician’s schedule for something so trivial.
“But there’s a switch for the kitchen lights on the other half of it,” I explained, “And that half works fine.”
She remained unfazed. In retrospect, maybe I should have fibbed and told her that something was smoking, shooting sparks or crackling. Instead, I just thanked her and said I’d try to find someone else.
As it turned out, everyone else I called also was booked up until next year. I began to wonder if a solar flare or something had caused a massive power problem, making everyone desperate for an electrician at the same time.
A couple nights later, my friend Nancy and her husband Paul came over. I previously (like every week for the past four months) had been complaining to them about my lighting situation, so Paul asked me about it.
“The lights won’t come on at all now,” I muttered. “I have to hold a flashlight with my teeth when I do the laundry.”
He walked over to the laundry room, flipped on the switch, and both lights immediately came on. My mouth fell open.
“They look fine to me,” he said, shrugging. He flipped the switch a few more times and the lights behaved perfectly. “Are you sure you haven’t been hallucinating?”
“It’s a curse, I tell you!” I cried. “The spirits in the ancient burial ground under here are out to get me!”
He laughed and shook his head.
Twenty minutes after Paul and Nancy left, I went into the laundry room, which also is where keep the dogs’ food, and hit the switch. Only one light popped on. I flipped it again. Total darkness.
To heck with calling an electrician. I’m going to call an exorcist.
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