The Saga Of My Search For Incandescent Lightbulbs

True confessions time.  I’m an incandescent lightbulb hoarder.  I lurve normal lightbulbs.  Soft white glow.  Roundish with an Edison base.  Retro.

Judge me IF you must.

• • •

Here is part of my incandescent lightbulb collection.

Here is part of my incandescent lightbulb collection.

 

• • •

So during these waning days of incandescent lightbulb availability, off I go to buy 25 Watt lightbulbs to replace the ones in the outdoor light fixture that provides light onto our deck.  

As you can imagine, they were almost impossible to find.  And when, after searching through 3 stores, I did find them at The Home Depot, I had to use the do-it-yourself checkout station… which didn’t work.

The screen was FROZEN.

• • •

It was at this point in my search for incandescent lightbulbs that I became the pawn of the woman responsible for the do-it-yourself checkout area.  And things became a bit difficult.

First, she didn’t believe that my screen wouldn’t work, so she tried seven times to make it go.  At this she failed.

Then when it was clear to her that my screen was, indeed, frozen,  she decided to ring up my purchase of $8.91 at her central register and have me hand her my $10.00 bill.  At this point in the transaction my frozen-screened do-it-yourself checkout station was to give me my change.

This would have been a great idea IF she had correctly entered $10.00 into her register, BUT she didn’t.

• • •

{ source }

{ source }

 

• • •

No, she put into her central register that I had handed her a $1000.00 bill– and suddenly my frozen-screened do-it-yourself checkout station started spewing out $20.00 bills at a speed and in a way comparable to a figure skater doing triple lutzes.

Pushing me aside, The Home Depot employee made a dash for the cash coming out of my frozen-screened do-it-yourself checkout station.  She was in a panic.  A minute or two later when she had all the cash in her hand she was so flustered that she couldn’t figure out how to continue with my transaction.

And I was in NO MOOD to leave the store without my $1.09 change.

• • •

So I waited, with a line of customers behind me, until The Home Depot employee regained her composure.  Then, using a magic key that she had on a cord around her neck, she unlocked the entire bottom section of my frozen-screened do-it-yourself checkout station and counted out my change from the big till in there.

Consequently, a mere ten minutes after stepping up to the do-it-yourself checkout station, The Home Depot employee handed me a bag filled with what might be the most difficult to find– and to pay for– 25 Watt lightbulbs in the world.

THE END.  

[Hello FTC!  Please note that I’m explaining my point-of-view about things and my experiences while buying such things.  There was no monetary &/or other compensation involved whatsoever.  I know that you’re a wise & wonderful governmental department so you probably already knew that, right?  Just wanted to be clear.]  

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

33 thoughts on “The Saga Of My Search For Incandescent Lightbulbs”

  1. More anecdotal evidence as to why self-checkout is the enemy. I hate it. The grocery store I frequent most often doesn’t even have it. Instead, it employs Real People at each checkout stand. The Other Grocery Store has a vast array of soulless self-checkouts and only 2 or 3 Real People. It’s terribly sterile and sad. It’s a Museum Of Lost Jobs.

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    1. nance, it was one of the goofiest checkout experiences I’ve had in years. At first I was annoyed, but then once $20.00 dollar bills started swirling around me, I got more into the absurdity of the situation. 😉

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  2. Tim and I are with you on the incandescent light bulbs! I hate the new “curly” bulbs filled with mercury that we are being forced to buy and pay a premium for. And like you said, the lighting is very different. I like the old fashioned lighting, too. I wonder what the other people in line thought when all the $20 bills started spewing out! Hilarious, indeed!

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    1. Beth, I have to wonder if the incandescent bulbs will permanently go away. Once the lightbulb industry figures out that they’ve sold all the curly bulbs that they can sell, I imagine that it’ll dawn on them that they can now sell good ‘ole normal lightbulbs for a premium. So they’ll lobby to get the laws changed– and incandescent bulbs will return.

      And yes, seeing that many bills start to dance around a machine was funny. Everyone was just staring… and waiting.

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  3. That does sound like an absurd adventure! Glad you got your bulbs and your $1.09 in change.

    I’m quite fond of the old incandesecent bulbs, too, though I guess I am more resigned than you about their extinction. I find it interesting that lightbulbs seem to form part of my individual symbolism, and at least 2 of my paintings (from back when I took art classes) included some form of these bulbs. I also have a fair number of photographs that feature them. Now, I do save our old bulbs, thinking I may at some point work them into an art piece.

    And I also loathe self check-outs. They are virtually impossible to use if you have small children with you, as any bump or deviation from the right sequence of weights leads to an error. They are also a pain if you bring your own bags, which I almost always do.

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    1. alejna, fascinating how lightbulbs are such a big part of your art, symbolism, self. I hope that you get the time to do an art piece with some of the old bulbs. That’d be coolness.

      You’ve nailed the problems with self check-out. I use them, but do not expect to have trouble-free experiences. Although this last experience was a new one for me.

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      1. You inspired me to go poking through my photos for lightbulbs. Here are 3 that I took when I did Project 365. (I think that was before I met you.)
        043:365
        297:365
        364:365

        I do also have a few photos of cf bulbs, which can have interesting shapes, but I don’t have the same affection for them. (And I’ve never painted one!) I’m very fond of the old-style incandescent Christmas bulbs, too.

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        1. alejna, those photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

          Perhaps you need to write a book in which you are able to use all of your lightbulb photos. Especially that third one– put it on the cover. It’s adorable.

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  4. I find self checkouts to be an interesting source of blog material because it attracts stupid people (not you of course). Mostly they are people with overflowing carts full of produce and stuff without stickers and they don’t know how to operate the system. Our local grocery story has a sign that they are for 15 items or less. Sounds like you hit the jackpot at your HD. Too bad the clerk noticed!

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    1. kate, I know what you mean. I get peeved with the people who park their overflowing carts in the middle of the self check-out area so that I can’t get to a machine without moving their cart– let alone use a machine. I like the idea of item limits on self check-out. We don’t have that here.

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  5. Hi “Soon to be Elderly” Alice,

    Love the light bulb story. I too like the Incan. Ones. The 25 watt ones put out more light than those mercury spewing twirly things that cost a lot. Plus I don’t like to be told what I can and cannot buy. Guess I’ll have to go on a hoarding adventure. If I don’t outlive my lifetime supply, I’ll will ’em to ya. Becky Sent from my iPad

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    1. Hello “Older than I am” Becky!

      I’d be delighted if you should become an incandescent lightbulb hoarder like me. Think of it as a new hobby to fill your hours. And by all means, leave them to me in your will. That’d be so thoughty of you.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  6. You mean you didn’t say, “But of course I handed you a $1000 bill! I want my change!” Think of all the light bulbs you could have bought.

    I’m in favor of the curly bulbs for all my difficult to reach lights, especially those with all the annoying little screws that have to be balanced just right to keep the stupid bumpy glass thing in place. But for my regular lamps, I’m on your side. I haven’t started hoarding yet but now that you’ve put in me in mind of it I will have to start laying in a supply.

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    1. Zazzy, I’m just too honest to even try and con someone like that. I just stepped back and watched what ensued.

      You may be on to a good compromise btwn using curly bulbs versus normal bulbs. Should my backstock run out I’ll do things like you’re doing things.

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  7. Hate those self check out stands there – always a problem and an associate has to run over and fix it…usually also having to call someone for help…why not just open a real register?
    UGH.
    Gathering up bulbs, too. Reveal ones give the best light for me. Not a fan of having to deal with mercury vapors/special disposal for light bulbs for the curlie ones. Now I’ve been told the expensive LED ones do not take power surges well – one friend found out the hard way…after replacing every single bulb at quite a cost…now must do it again.
    Better is the enemy of good….

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    1. philosophermouse, I often have good experiences at the self check-out registers when stores are crowded. I’m Speedy Gonzalez when in a hurry, so I can be faster than a cashier. But other times… well, I end up watching a self check-out station turn into a Vegas slot machine!

      Didn’t know that LED + power surge = the end of the light bulb. Like you said, “better is the enemy of good.” Almost always.

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    1. Andra, there is something intrinsically wrong with those machines. Too many smart ppl have too much trouble using them. ATMs have progressed to a point where they are easy to use, so maybe self check-out machines will follow suit. I hope.

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  8. I want to hoard those light bulbs too. There is something about their curvaceous beauty that I love. (also I’m a traditionalist) I hate self check out and avoid it whenever possible. And I also don’t like Home Depot. I usually go to my local hardware store where I’m sure I pay more, but where they treat me like a princess. 😉

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    1. Margaret, I think that I’ve started a small club here: The Society of Incandescent Lightbulb Hoarders. With gavel in hand {tap, tap} I call the first meeting of this distinguished association to order. 😉

      I can see why you avoid the big box hardware stores for a friendly local one. I don’t have that option where I live. [Or more accurately, I don’t have that option within a reasonable driving distance from my home.]

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  9. This is so funny! I’m so sorry, I know it was very frustrating for you, but the thought of all that money coming out of the till and the employee trying to put right her mistake and catch all the money is just so funny. If she’d taken a moment and not got cross in the first place, that wouldn’t have happened. I also prefer the old lightbulbs. When we first put a new type one in our bedroom, I went in there and put on the light and it took so long to come on that I assumed it had blown and had gone back to the switch. We bought some when they were first banned, but there weren’t many to be had. I’m practically on first name terms with the manager at our local grocery store as every time I use their self check out there is a problem, usually “unexpected item in bagging area” like I’m a thief or something. Sometimes the unexpected item is my little man, taking a rest :-/ Dislike it intently, but the guy knows me now. Good luck on your next shopping expedition!

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    1. Polly, all that money coming out of the machine was like something you’d see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon– unexpected, funny. But that poor flustered woman who was trying [in her own way] to be professional and helpful, just about melted down in front of my eyes.

      No one seems to like the self check-out areas anywhere. Like alejna mentioned above, I have probs with them when I bring my own shopping bags… which is almost always. Still, every so often I have a great experience with one, so I think that there is hope for the concept.

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  10. I’m with you on incandescent light bulbs! Do you know you can’t buy lamps with three-way bulbs anymore. At least in California you can’t. So much for mood-lighting!

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  11. Ally, this post made me laugh and laugh. Those machines are absurd (but I agree they are a good idea in theory). I always bring my own bags too and even though I tell it that, it still can’t figure anything out. Also I carry a large purse that I need to rest somewhere and at most places the large metal shelf (that looks like the perfect place to rest a purse) is actually a scale. A scale?! Are people checking out large turkeys? The shelf is huge and such a silly concept. How much produce do people in the self-checkout lines usually buy?

    And I agree with you on the lightbulbs, but, have you ever tried the lightbulbs from IKEA? If you can figure out their ridiculous labeling system for which bulb goes with what, it’s worth it. Most of our lamps and fixtures have them and turn on right away with a nice warm glow. Oh and they last years and years, unlike some of the other “long-lasting” bulbs I’ve bought at big-box stores!

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    1. Kristen, I’ve had the same problems with the scale. Where else are you supposed to put your purse? Love the concept of the self check-out, but they have a ways to go.

      Didn’t know about the Ikea bulbs. The only curly ones that I’ve tried either made a weird buzzy noise OR gave off a harsh light. Will look into your suggestion. Thanks.

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      1. Oh and I should say that because their lightbulbs originate from Europe, they’re curly, but on the inside. The outside of the lightbulb looks like the older style! 🙂

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  12. I’m too nervous to use self-checkout most of the time. I’m always afraid something will go wrong!
    As for the bulbs, I actually don’t mind the CFL light bulbs. They’re still round and they have a soft white that resembles the traditional bulbs. They are expensive ($15! yikes!), but evidently they will last years and years. We’ll see if that holds up to be true!

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    1. Stephanie, when the self check-out machines work, they’re cool and I feel like I’m so clever for using one! But most of the time something goes wrong, so you may be the smartest person I know for not even bothering with them.

      Obviously I need to adopt your positive attitude about the CFL lightbulbs. I have no doubts that eventually I’ll buy one. It’s not like my incandescent stash is going to hold out forever. 🙂

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