Light Bulb Lessons

It’s good to learn.

John Maxwell said, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

I learn a lot.

I learned a valuable lesson the other night. When you sink an amazing nine-ball shot, don’t raise your arms in exuberance – especially if you happen to be standing under the ceiling fan. The shower of glass taught me that and I like to think that I’ve learned from it. The only positive from this particular lesson was that I got to go to the neighborhood hardware store where my friend, Hershel works.


Hershel is the best. He’s a little old guy who is slow and slightly stooped from years of hard work. He can fix anything better than anyone who comes in the store, but he is never condescending about:

  1. your lack of knowledge, or
  2. your stupidity for breaking whatever you came in to fix.

Since I learn many lessons, I’m a regular. He greeted me as the bell rang to announce my entry.

“Mornin’, Mark. What can I do for you?”

“Hi, Hershel. I need a lightbulb.”

“Well, we just got in these LED bulbs.”

“Nah, I just need one for my ceiling fan.”

“That’s good. To be honest, I put one in my bathroom. Now I feel like I’m in a police spotlight when I come out of the shower.”

I looked awkwardly at Hershel, knowing I would never be able to scrub the image of his wrinkly, naked body framed in high beam light out of my head.

“Did you bring the old one?” he asked. “It helps.”

Not wanting to explain the broken bulb and divulge my stupidity to Hershel yet again, I simply said, “No, it’s just a bulb. Nothing fancy.”

“Well, they’re all in aisle seven. If you want, I can help you.”

“I’ll find it,” I replied as a moved past him to get what I needed.

I quickly spotted the proper bulb but found that every package had been opened and taped shut.

“Hey, Hershel, looks like someone’s been tampering with your merchandise.”

“Nah, people buy the wrong bulb all the time. That’s why I recommend bringing in the old one.”

“Well, are these okay?”

“Sure they are. If it doesn’t work you can bring it back.”

“But I only need one and this is a two-pack. I might not try it for a year or two.”

“I’ll still be here,” Herschel smiled. “And if you’re really that keyed up about it, try them both when you get home just to make sure.”

He might be slow, but he’s always one step ahead of me.

I bought the bulbs and took them home with the intent of trying them both to make sure they worked. I removed one from the package and started to screw it in but the darn thing wouldn’t turn. I checked the base then tried the other with the same result. Then I remembered what Hershel said and unscrewed one of the other bulbs to compare.


The good news is, I got to go see my friend, Hershel again. Hershel’s great. He wasn’t judgmental at all as he accepted my taped-up return and exchanged it for the type that matched the bulb I had brought in to compare. I didn’t bother trying both bulbs in the package. After all, If the second one didn’t work, it would mean another visit to the hardware store.




Photo Credit: Joe Mabel

9 thoughts on “Light Bulb Lessons

  1. Mark-We used to deal with Hershel when he was at Cumming Hardware, back in the day! Where is he now? He taught my husband so much of what he knows about repairing things. Let me know if you will. Thanks!
    Debra Johnson

      1. Oh. I thought it was our Herschel. Would love to see him. Knew everything there was to know about hardware and all associated with it.

  2. I miss our little community hardware store, there’s nothing like it. And they are especially kind to us stumblebums without undue criticism. Uh, unless after we leave of course. Mark, stay just as you are. There are too many men out in the world that know things but have no character and charisma!!!

  3. ha ha! We don’t really have any really good hardware stores here. Lightbulbs have to be bought in the big giant DIY warehouses or supermarkets. I also love that his name is Hershel. That’s a great name. 🙂

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