I stepped into my kitchen the other day to begin preparing dinner. A good old-fashioned British roast beef affair, including Yorkshire puddings and bacon-infused Lima beans. Guests were still a few hours from arrival, but my schedule called for me to get going. I flipped the light switch and – poff – the light-bulb blew. One bright flash and then darkness. Oh well, no problem, I’ll just get another bulb, hop up on the stool and pop it in. A brief scan of the household supply cabinet soon confirmed my fear, of course, there were no other bulbs.
Rejigging my plans, I headed out to pick up some last-minute items that I needed anyway and get some light bulbs. My first stop was a big box supermarket that provided me with a fine array of 40 and 60-watt bulbs. As far as I’m concerned, these are of no use whatsoever. On to stop two, a big box pharmacy and the same result, 40s and 60s that wouldn’t brighten a mine shaft, never mind my kitchen. My third stop was another chain drug store that yielded, yep, you guessed it, no 100s.
It quickly became clear to me that my simple quest for what I considered a household staple evidently was going to entail a visit to the local big box, no make that huge crate, hardware store, that would, no doubt, be a zoo on a Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival, I immediately located the light bulb section, and it is a whole section. This seemed to be a step in the right direction. There they were, umpteen different kinds of bulbs: clear, frosted, fluorescent, tubes, round, twisted corkscrew-looking, but alas yet again no 100-watt bulbs.
This struck me as the best place to get to the bottom of this mystery. Along came an orange-aproned store employee who, when I asked for what felt like the thousandth time that day if they had any 100 watt bulbs said “No”. He didn’t even check, he knew for sure. Noting my surprise he explained that they are no longer available, incandescent bulbs are being phased-out. He could provide me with a 200 or even a 300-watt spiral bulb for a mere $12 each, but your run of the mill, four-pack of standard 100-watt bulbs at $2.45 is no longer available.
Upon my return home, armed with four 60 watt bulbs, and being just a little skeptical, I did some research and, sure enough, according to Wikipedia, “Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives. Phase-out regulations effectively ban the manufacture, importation or sale of incandescent light bulbs for general lighting. The regulations would allow the sale of future versions of incandescent bulbs if they are sufficiently energy-efficient.” And here in Canada, the federal government banned the import of 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs from 1 January 2014. On 31 December 2014, the import of 40- and 60-watt bulbs will also be banned. Retailers will be allowed to sell their existing inventories imported before the bans.
I still needed to prepare dinner, even under 60-watts. The process of changing my kitchen light-bulb requires getting on a stool, removing the glass ball in which lurks the bulb, changing the said bulb and replacing the ball. No problem. That’s when the decorative collar that fits flush up against the ceiling and covers the hole through which the wiring passes wobbled its way down to the top of the ball, much like the inverted basket in the game of Mousetrap or a miniature Times Square New Years Eve ball. It is held in place by a small ring that has an even smaller screw in it. Tightening the screw keeps the collar in place. I managed to push it up into position, then the fun began.
At this point my arms, having been in an unnatural position extended over my head for several minutes, had been reduced to something akin to over-cooked linguine. I had to try to see and then tighten a screw that would be better used on a pair of eyeglasses. To illustrate the uselessness of 60-watt bulbs, even with the light on it was too dark to see the screw some ten inches away. Somehow after much fiddling and a quick novena to St Jude, I was able to find the slot on the screw and tighten it.
I’m pleased to say that all turned out just fine, but I still don’t know if I’ll ever get used to paying 12 bucks for a light-bulb!