Thou shalt not change thy own light bulbs

dvd playerA few days ago, I was at a workshop, and we had to set up a DVD player. I was in charge of logistics, so I got the machine then asked for some boy in the know to come hook it up.

My statement offended some ladies in the audience, who felt I was stereotyping. I hadn’t given it much thought, so I revised the statement and asked anyone who could get it working to come do so.

Three girls huddled around the machine, trying to match the red wire to the white wire. Two of us, me included, spent a few seconds asking why it didn’t have a yellow wire.

In the end, one of the guys came and set it up. Oh ouch.

Even the staunchest feminist admits to having a guy to fix her light bulbs. I’ve always been really proud of changing my own, until today.

See, I have had many, many, many adventures with light bulbs, but I always blamed the glass. When I used three bulbs for every change in Dar, I assumed it was because the bulbs cost two bob Kenyan. And the house had faulty wiring. Why else would the first two bulbs I replace blow within seconds – every single time?!

light bulbWhen I broke the bulb fixture thingie – I think it’s called a holder – I played innocent with the landlord while he replaced it, and spent the time trying to get the black plastic out of my eye.

When I snapped the fixture on the balcony at my brother’s house, I discreetly tried masking tape … should have used superglue. Super glue can fix anything!

We left that house years ago, but the balcony still has no light.

When I plugged another bulb loosely and it came crashing down three seconds after I left the room … well … how can that possibly be my fault? I wasn’t even in the room!

So a few weeks ago, my kitchen bulb blew. It was one of those energy-saving types that cost 250, so I got a new one and replaced it. A few days later, I noticed it making this squeaking sound, like a rat was chewing on its wires. The light would brighten and dim too, and fridge was acting funny.

I figured the power had fluctuated and started thinking of getting a fridge guard. But after a while, I asked my brother to come look at it. He said the bulb was probably loose, and I should try unscrewing it and then screwing it back again.

Didn’t work.

Then I had both my brothers look at it – separately – and they told me the metal holder thingie had warped, and that I needed a new one. Fair enough. So I walked around town all day arguing with vendors because what they tried to sell me was the wrong colour, the wrong size, the wrong shape … or the wrong price.

I eventually got the right thing for fifty bob, and my brother tried to fix it for me. Only the broken fixture was too tight and neither pliers nor towels and man-force could pluck it out. We thought about breaking it … but nah.

It was pretty late, so we decided to call it a night and fix the bulb tomorrow. Only … the fridge wouldn’t go on. Good Lord.

My brother asked me to switch the fuse box off and on again. I did. Twice. It didn’t work.

Let me first explain that all the wiring in my house is crossed. When you press the cooker switch, the fridge lights up, and vice versa. And a second explanation is that we were trying to sort our own bulb wiring instead of calling the caretaker. So my mind was already in panic mode about how I was going to explain this to the landlord.

But then little brother walks up to the fuse box, switches it off, switches it on, and voila! It works! The fridge switch still lights up the cooker, but at least they both work.

And I thought that off-and-on thing only fixes computers.

I don’t know what that child has in his blood, but all my machines work when he’s around … and promptly die when he leaves.

Either way, from now on, I think I leave all lighting matters to the men.

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Crystal Ading' is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through