Last night just after 7 p.m., I go into the kitchen and turn on the light. There is a pop as the light bulb goes out and then a loud ding. No problem – I know I need to replace light bulb. I turn on the hall light so that I can somewhat see what I’m doing. Then I get the step-stool, a new light bulb and my small screwdriver to undo the screw to the plate that keeps the white glass shade in place. When I remove it, I find the bulb lying on the bottom. I’ve never had a bulb break away from its base before – I don’t know what to do.
Remember Alex my neighbour across the hall, with whom I have a do-you-have-a-cup-of-sugar-I-can-borrow relationship? Well, I knock on his door for help. After asking after each other’s health and catching up on a little bit of news, I tell him what happened and if he has a cure.
“Potato,” he says promptly. I reply that I don’t understand. He explains that you can use a potato to remove a broken light bulb from a light fixture: cut a potato in half; push it into the socket until it catches; then turn it slowly. The potato stands in for the body of bulb, allowing you to remove it easily.
One little problem – I’m a woman trying to lose weight, ergo there hasn’t been even a shadow of a potato in my kitchen for months. I ask him if anything else will work. Alex disappears into his kitchen and finds a potato. Then he asks if I need anything else: since this is my first broken light bulb adventure, I tell him I’d appreciate it if he will come and supervise.
Alex asks me numerous times if the light switch is off. Yes, yes, yes, I reply from the step-stool, as I reach above my head with half a raw potato clutched in the hand of my extended right arm. I give it a good push and turn it. Nothing happens – the potato came away with barely a dent in it.
He continues to give me instruction from ground zero, which included push harder, you have to turn the potato, here let me woman. We sound like a married couple. But when he takes over, he doesn’t have any easier time of it. Finally, after cutting a slight indentation into the potato and a lot of persistence, bits of the broken light bulb, along with its base finally come out.
Alex leaves, laughing as he points out that he’s left a mess for me to clean up. I smile and reply, “Yes, dear.”