Saturday, January 17, 2009

It depends where the light bulb is

A new year reminds me of the process of changing a light bulb. Out with the old, in with the new. Simple. That is, depending on where the light bulb is, and how you have to change it.
Many years ago, at one place I worked, the light fixtures were dropped three feet on swinging wire from 25-foot ceiling. There was a balcony all the way around the long narrow building at about the 12-foot level. That balcony had a four-foot rail or banister all the way around with top of that being made from a regular 2-by-6”.
To change a light bulb in that place, we had to stretch out a homemade cross platform across from banister to banister. The platform was made from two 12-foot, 2-by-4s” with a 3/4”plywood base in the center between them. A person had to shinny out on the platform and unscrew the large glass globes to get to the bulb.
So there you were, 20 feet up from the hardwood floor, on a narrow platform made out of two boards and a piece of plywood, with one hand holding the exterior globe, one hand to hold on to the platform, and one hand trying to change the bulb (yes, I know that is three hands) and customers and other employees below — all with ample measures of advice and cautionary description of what you would look like if you fell from that height.
Amazingly, you eventually reached a comfort level where it didn’t really bother you to change those bulbs. Or you didn’t bother to change them.
Such is memory. Warren Kliewer wrote, “Time passes and you accumulate a storehouse of memories. More time passes and you discover that looking up a long-lost friend is as interesting as making a new one, that revisiting a dreary neighborhood where you once lived is as stimulating as exploring a new place…I used to marvel at older people. ‘Why do they wallow in nostalgia?’ I wondered. I no longer regard it as frivolous.”
In the New Year, I wish you good memories — and good luck with any light bulbs you must change. May the next year be all at ground level and a simple exchange — out with the old, in with the new.

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