Homefull 2.4: Lectricity

I have a tenuous relationship with electricity. Just a couple of years ago, I finally conceded that it exists. Before then, I considered it a form of mass hypnosis. Sure, I’d wired in new fixtures, but I’d relied upon the circuit breakers to confirm if I’d connected them correctly. Even then, I once installed an outlet that delivered barely enough ‘juice’ to turn the fan in a hair drier, but not nearly enough to heat its element. Ohm problem or something, I guess. I resolved that difficulty by reinstalling the old light switch instead of the switch/plug combo that I thought should have worked.

The new place has florescent fixtures in the basement. The one over the laundry area works fine after I whap it on one end a couple of times. One over the workbench looks unused new, but was missing the tubes, so I headed back to the hardware store. I’m there two or three times every day since we moved in here. I’m getting to where I don’t get lost in there nearly as much.

Being no dummy, and knowing the secret code thanks to my stockboy job at a drug store in high school, I wrote down the code from a tube in an identical fixture in my little notebook before I left. Nothing in the store matched that code, so I returned home to measure the length of the tubes in that identical fixture: just shy of 48 inches. Yesterday, I bought two 48 inch tubes, since they don’t come in ‘just shy of 48 inch’ lengths, only to find when I returned that they didn’t fit. About a quarter inch too long.

I’m thinking maybe the owner bought metric-sized fixtures at Ikea or something and I’ll have to special order tubes from Finland. Don’t know yet. This morning, it’s an unresolved mystery.

I should be accustomed to this sort of experience. Hardware stores tend to have everything in stock except for the one little item I’m looking for. That one little thing seems to either have been discontinued or on permanent back order, so I maintain a backlog of unfixables. Sure, I could just buy a new fixture that uses standard tubes, but I wanted to just buy tubes. I’ll wrestle with this dilemma until I accept that I can’t always get what I want.

I know, none of that story seems terribly interesting, even to me. The interesting part comes when my aspirations collide with my reality: my self-esteem plummets. I feel like the perfect idiot for having wanted what I cannot have, and I redefine funk with my response. I’m not overstating when I admit I get depressed. I imagine Bob Villa smiling like a self-satisfied Lucifer through his perfectly trimmed beard to fix with a quick snap of his fingers whatever’s stymied me, and, in spite of the fact that I’m wearing a genuine leather tool belt, I feel a somehow unmanly. My ego takes it in the shorts.

Those tubes will gather dust on the workbench for a few days before I muster the courage to take them back to the hardware store, where Eric the manager will do his very best Bob Villa imitation and explain the trick for fitting my forty eight inch tubes into a just-shy-of forty eight inch fixture. I won’t feel smarter or more worthwhile then. I’ll feel a little stupider for not knowing and for needing someone else to explain. Returning home, I’ll find that I cannot quite replicate Eric’s internal Bob Villa and the tubes still won’t fit. For me.

Later, The Muse will notice my hang-dog face and weasel the story out of me, march me down to the workbench, and do Mr. Villa one better, fitting those tubes in there like they were made to fit or something. I can hardly wait for that ‘lectrifying finish.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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