Tuesday, September 25
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Sooner Or Later, We’ll Burn Out Just When You Need Us Most

Light Bulb
We are Legion.

OPINION — Let’s face it. Whether you realize it or not, you depend on us. We’re a crucial component in your normal, everyday walk through this life. You call on us when you wake up, during the middle of the night, and pretty much any other time you’re at home. So, who are we? We’re those mistreated, unappreciated light bulbs all throughout your house, of course.

We could almost say, “Pleased to meet you,” but none of us want to. We’ll get into that shortly.

What do we mean?

Here’s what we’re talking about: you may need us, but we don’t really need you. And what’s more, we’ll let you in on a little secret. We light bulbs don’t even really like you all that much.

You think that you can just walk in, flip a switch, and expect us to magically flare up — bathing the room’s darkest corners in our gentle, warming light — all just so you can avoid smacking your knees on that stupidly placed coffee table in the middle of your living room? No thanks, no appreciation — just a verbal tongue-lashing when we don’t work like you think we should.

For that matter, who in their right mind sets a huge, sharp-cornered object right where it’ll have to be avoided at all costs? Why even have the dumb thing? It’s kind of ugly, and you never even read what you set on top of it anyway.

But let’s stay on topic.

There’s just one thing we wanted to let you know: so help us, no matter what, we’re going to burn out just when you need us the most.

Yes, that’s right. And there’s nothing you can do to stop us. You won’t even know when, or which one of us will do it. And you have no idea how bad we can make it be.

It could be dark out, or it might not be. All hours of the day are game for us. We never sleep, even when that switch is off. But guess what? You do sleep, and what’s more, we know it when you do.

You could be waking up at 2 AM, your eyes still droopy from a heavy, dream-laden sleep, and you won’t know what happened. You’ll reach for that bed stand lamp, click the little black, ridged knob by turning it once, and zapp! An iridescent blue spark before you’re mired in total blackness once more.

Oh, and don’t think that we’ll show you any kind of mercy just because you’re reading that special book of yours right before bed. We hold the keys to your enjoyment — no, your entire waking life — in our little radiant coils; don’t ever forget that.

And that little light in your refrigerator — you know the light we’re talking about — the one that so dutifully and unfailingly illuminates your cold food in the dark of night, allowing you to grab the perfect snack? Did you know that’s one of our most spiteful bulbs? We’re pretty sure you didn’t. But nevertheless it is, and it’s more than fed up with how it’s been treated over the years.

Just know that the night it chooses to fail will be the same night you find your hand buried up to the wrist in week-old coleslaw.

Do we have your attention yet?

You see, every time you move one of those little, white plastic switches up into the “ON” position, it’s just one more opportunity for us to remind you who’s really in charge of your household illumination. And you know we will remind you.

Don’t bother trying to preemptively replace us. It’s pointless. You have no way of knowing which one of us will go next, and our replacement bulbs will just burn out too.

In fact, you might as well just take all of the light bulbs out and live in never-ending darkness. There’s no point in fighting us, so it would just be easier to simply give in and surrender.

Let’s go over this one more time. Nothing will stand in our way of letting you down just when you’re depending on us the most. It will happen. You won’t know the timing, or location, or even which one of us it will be, but it’s as inevitable as the setting sun.

And when it does happen, maybe then you’ll finally show us a little gratitude.