Have you ever started out to do a simple job that should have taken only a few minutes and found yourself still working on it hours later? Recently I spent most of a day trying to change a lightbulb! To be fair, it wasn’t just any lightbulb, but a special tiny one that was in the combination fan and light in my stove hood. This meant that I had to be practically standing upside down to even see it. When it burned out the first time a couple years ago, I gave up trying to change it and decided to just cook in the dark until my son came home for Christmas many weeks later. He’s one of those people who just KNOWS how to do all sorts of things, and he makes any job look so easy! I have to be patient and just make a list of the jobs, though, because he only gets home a few times a year.
This time I decided that I was going to succeed in changing that miserable little lightbulb myself, no matter what! The first step was to determine if I even had another bulb just like it. I was pretty sure that when my son went to the hardware store looking for a replacement bulb the last time, I told him to get an extra one. The only problem was trying to remember where I would have put it. For some reason, I thought I may have put it in one of my TWO junk drawers, one of which is about a foot deep and holds a load of junk.
So, on my quest to find the extra lightbulb in my deep junk drawer I found: an 8 pound ball of twine, 370 yards of fishing line, a 54 yard dispenser of packing tape, 3 rolls of masking tape, 3 lint rollers, a small stapler and a box of staples, 3 of those long handled candle lighting things, 8 pairs of new shoelaces, 3 flip phones, a car charger that doesn’t fit any of those flip phones, a 25 foot Stanley PowerLock tape measure, various screw drivers, a pair of needle nose pliers, 4 night lights, close to a bazillion new batteries in every size, a bottle of wood glue, a roll of psychedelic duct tape, and a partridge in a pear tree. But no stove lightbulb!
Since I didn’t have any luck in the large junk drawer, the next obvious step was to tackle the small junk drawer, but first I was getting hungry so I stopped to brew a fresh pot of coffee and make an Egg Beater omelet on the unlit surface of my stove. This just made me more determined to find that lightbulb and make short work of the job.
This junk drawer might have been small, but it contained 10 decks of playing cards, several hundred loose rubber bands tangled with some Christmas tree ornament hangers, 2 packets of organic catnip, a roll of double sided mounting tape, 8 notepads, 4 small boxes of wooden matches, a package of Emery boards, a pocket calculator, 2 pairs of scissors, 4 Post It notepads, a pile of address labels that seem to multiply in the drawer, and a 25 watt GE appliance lightbulb, on which I had written Stove Light! Woohoo! I threw out a lot of stuff and organized the rest into neat piles.
I then turned myself upside down to try to take the cover off so I could remove the burned out lightbulb. But, holy mother! What a greasy mess! I took the grid off that covered the fan and put it to soak. I got a rag and a bucket of Mr. Clean and hot water and tried to clean the entire surface but it was difficult to get in all the nooks and crannies without being able to see in this dark place, so I turned the flashlight function on my phone on and aimed it upward. Flipping myself upside down and sideways, I scrubbed every crevice until my arm was tired and I decided it was clean enough!
When I tried to remove the cover of the light, I discovered that there was only one screw holding it on and one empty place where the other screw had been. I went to my toolbox and sorted through the dozens of kinds of screws that I had, but nothing looked even close to the one I needed. I put the one good screw in a tiny Zip Lock bag and cleaned myself up a bit for my trip to Burke’s Ace Hardware store. As an afterthought, I grabbed the burned out lightbulb and the package the new light had been in and decided I’d get an extra stove lightbulb while I was there.
The nice folks at Ace Hardware had to order the lightbulb for me, and they couldn’t match the screw exactly, but sold me some that they said should work. They didn’t. I was upside down trying so many times to get the screw to go in that I couldn’t hold my arm up anymore. I turned a vegetable serving bowl upside down and propped my elbow on it while I tried to get the new screw started, but it just wouldn’t catch. At that point I decided that one screw would have to be good enough! I was beat, and I still had to finish cleaning the fan cover and put it back on before I could cook something for my supper on my clean, well-lit stove.
And that, my friends, is why it took me an entire day to change a single lightbulb! The good news is that my junk drawers are a bit more organized now and I no longer have to cook in the dark! Mission accomplished!
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Marilyn Secco is a retired teacher and author of the book “Front Porch Tales.” She has 2 children and 5 grandchildren and lives in Kersey with a temperamental cat named Tidder. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org