In the last twenty plus years, lightbulb technology has come a long way. We’ve gone from incandescents and their familiar shape to a wide range of LED powered bulbs that are more efficient. With this evolution, we have begun to place bulbs everywhere. My parent’s bed even has LEDs under it. But one of the best things this has brought us is under cabinet lighting in kitchens, something I added to my own kitchen a few years back.
As the bulbs have gotten smaller, so has their design changed as well. The bulbs under my cabinets are really small, they sort of remind me of glass jewels that you’d see in a Parker Brothers game that came out in the ‘80s. They’re round-ish, completely transparent, and have a squat base with two metal prongs protruding. I know this as I recently spent a fair amount of time examining one after it burned out and I needed to get a replacement.
With most light bulbs you check the wattage and off you go to get another. But with these specialty bulbs, you don’t know exactly what to get as a replacement. Naturally, I misplaced the paperwork that came with the light socket set years ago. So I took the bulb I had been so carefully looking at and off to the home improvement store I went. I knew where the bulbs were, and I knew they had one section just for this kind of special bulbs. All I would have to do is take the bulb out of my pocket and try to find the one that matches the same look.
However, it wasn’t that simple. The special bulb section was filled with several bulbs that looked exactly like the one in my pocket. Same size, same shape, same prongs, but with different wattages. My brain always goes to the worst case scenario, I assumed if I got any bulb that wasn’t exactly right, I’d blow a breaker and set my house on fire.
The fire department would come out, put out the fire, ask me what happened, then they would laugh at me when I tell them it was over a light bulb that they would all be intimately familiar with. The order would be given to turn the fire hose on me, while I would also be informed that legal documentation was being made to inform my girlfriend that I’m an inadequate lover and she should leave me.
As I looked at the new bulbs I saw they all had writing on the base of them to brand what they were. “Ah, ha!” I thought. I took the bulb out of my pocket now thinking I would be out of the store in no time. Of course, it wasn’t that easy. The writing on my bulb had worn away and my desperate search continued.
Finally, I decided that enough had been enough, it was time to ask for help. I was half convinced at this point that this bulb didn’t really exist, and if it did, it wasn’t right in front of me. “Hey, I don’t know what kind of bulb this is, can you help?” The response was that I needed to go see Joe over in the lighting section, as it’s a specialty kind of bulb and he would know exactly where it was. At his point, I felt less stupid for having spent nearly half an hour trying to find a lightbulb.
I went to see Joe and told him that I was sent over by someone who told him he could tell me where I could find this bulb. Joe took the bulb from my hand and within a nanosecond said “Oh, yeah, this is a G20 40W. I know where this is. Come with me.” Joe led me right back to the aisle I was in, right back to the section I had just spent half an hour in front of, reached over, got the package with the bulb I needed, and handed it to me with a smile. I felt so confused, did this suddenly appear thanks to the magic of Joe? Was it there the entire time? Did I need a nap?
To make matters worse when I went back home and picked up the cover to the lamp housing after putting the bulb back in, I noticed a ring of black text around the glass cover that allows the light to pass through. This text read as follows “Use G20 40W replacement bulbs.” What a fool I felt like, it was there the entire time, I could have saved nearly an hour of my life by simply reading the cover, instead of just grabbing the burnt bulb and flying off to the store.
Oh, well. At least I can see what I’m doing when I fix breakfast now. See you next week.