Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let There Be Light!

Today's wound was from a falling ballast when I dismantled the light fixture in the laundry room. It is the fluorescent type that hold 2 four foot long tubes. When one bulb won't light, it's usually just a bulb, but when both won't light simultaneously, it's either the starter or the ballast, depending upon how old the fixture is. I learned this from a well informed employee of the world famous Home Depot. So today, instead of buying what I thought I might need, I first dismantled the light fixture and found a ballast, indicating the fixture was one of the newer variety. Opening the fixture, after removing the 2 tubes was similar to opening a Swiss watch. Things came flying out, mostly wires reminding me of a jack in the box popping up.

The next step took some nerve. It required me to cut the wires connecting the ballast in an, all or nothing, effort. Then just one small screw held up the hefty item and when it came crashing down to the floor, it cut my arm, ever so slightly. Casualty number one.

I took the old ballast to Home Depot and in no time at all, found an unsuspecting clerk to assist me. Lets call him Clem. Clem looked like every other Home Depot employee that you've ever seen. He wore his orange apron and was very polite. He asked me to wait while he finished up with a customer and I did. Finally Clem smiled and asked how he could assist me. Holding up my old ballast, I pointed out that I thought I needed a new one. He took it from me and inspected it. "Just as I thought Clem explained, it's a PX173945, these are going to be outlawed starting next month. I could sell you one today, but I wouldn't be doing you any favors. That's your government working for you"! Feeling like I owed Clem my life for keeping me within the law, I thanked him endlessly, repeatedly wiping my sweating brow. Talk about dodging a bullet!

Clem walked us over to a selection of the new streamlined ballasts that are approved for extended use. He squatted down to search the bottom shelf creating a sound that I wasn't expecting, kind of a sickly groan. Then he told me that he wasn't used to being old and reached for his reading glasses. I smiled and pointed to mine, part of the "old guys" necessities. That's when Clem started to share. He told me that his daddy told him that after 40, things would start getting tough. He laughed and told me that he was never better between 40 and 45, then all hell broke loose, now that he's turned 50. Trying not to blurt out, "you ain't seen nothing yet", I casually mentioned that I'm 65 and one day, and they don't let you know ahead of time, every square inch of skin on your body changes and begins to look like your scrotum......................... and it happens overnight!!!

That's when Clem looked at me and nothing came out. He was silent, just staring at me. I think this is when we went from customer and clerk to just two guys telling it like it is. Things seemed to move in slow motion as Clem's face curled into a smile and he let out the biggest, loudest belly laugh he ever let out in his 50 years. After composing himself, he asked me, yours got 2 blue wires, 2 red wires, 2 yellow wires, a black wire and a white wire? I said, yes and he sent me to the cashier's. I went home and tried my very best to not electrocute myself. I installed the new ballast, my LEGAL one and got the biggest thrill when I turned the light switch and it actually worked. Let there be light!

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