Monday, July 26, 2010

Energy star? Pshaw...Gold Star!!

Somehow, my husband signed up to get an energy audit on our lightbulbs from NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA’s aim is to help New York meet its energy goals:  reducing energy consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and protecting the environment.
So, anyway, he signed up for someone to come into our home and count how many compact fluorescent light bulbs we have. You know, these things:
And NYSERDA was going to give us $100 for the trouble of opening our door and letting them in to count the bulbs. They really need that info, I guess. I was dubious. But said okay. Then I realized that I was the one who would have to be the lightbulb-counter-letter-inner-attender-to. Because my husband would be at work. No biggie. So, I'd earn my $100. 

Boy, would I.

The scheduling lady on the phone said it would take "at most an hour" and it was fine that I had three kids around, I wouldn't need to do anything. 

Even though she said that, the day Mr. Lightbulb-counter was coming I forced the kids to go to a 2 hour summer recreation program in a neighborhood park anyway, just in case.

When I got home, a really old, white, rusty Saab was in my driveway with the owner just putting "the club" on the steering wheel. 
You know, this thing:
Not for nuttin' (as they used to say in Providence, RI), but, my neighborhood is pretty safe. Nobody gets their cars stolen. Or broken into. Especially at 9:00 am. And if someone wanted to steal a car, I bet they'd go for the neighbor's BMW SUV rather than the rusted out SAAB with Vermont plates. But, better safe, I suppose, than sorry. 

So the guy was about 55-60 yrs old, grey hair in a white man's overgrown afro. Similar to this: 

He was wearing baggy cammo pants with black combat boots, a pair of glasses on his face and another on a leash around his neck, also with a man-purse (a murse?) around his shoulder. He could well have slept in his car, he smelled and looked, that fresh. He came in and pointed up at the light fixture in the foyer. (He didn't introduce himself, no ID, nothing. I should have kept the kids at home to call 911, if need be!)

Unknown Man: "What's in there?"

Me: "What do you mean?"

Unknown Man: "What's inside that fixture?"

Me: "Lightbulbs..." (not knowing what he meant exactly.)

Unknown Man: "What kind?"

Me: "Better grab your step-ladder."

Unknown Man: big sigh... (unscrews glass cover, finds CFL, sighs, writes down the serial number on the side of the CFL) "When did you buy this bulb and where?"

Me: "I don't know, about 2 years ago at Home Depot or Lowes."

Unknown Man: "Well, which is it? Home Depot or Lowes? And was it exactly 2 years or more than 2 years?"

Me: ???? (Are you freaking kidding me.)

And this was repeated with every single light in every single light fixture we had. He wanted to know where EXACTLY I purchased each and every bulb. Who remembers these things?! Then he got snippy with me when I didn't know.

Each bulb had to be unscrewed and have the little numbers written down. After a while he'd say, "Lemme guess, Home Depot or Lowes. You don't actually know. About two years ago."

We have a lot of CFLs and he was starting to get pissed. Every single CFL made him seem to get madder. It was as if he wanted us to have ZERO energy-saving light bulbs.

They come in all kinds of shapes now. We have these:

And these. And these. All these squiggles and wiggles... gott'em.

He also started asking me what I did with my life. What did my husband do? Didn't I think I should go back to college and study something useful? Don't I know that the kids aren't going to need me forever? Oh, I like ceramics? He told me I really should start a business of painting dungeons and dragons figurines. 

Or pressing weeds into clay tiles. And then he told me he really is trained as a city planner. But has never worked as one. And he used to be a drug addict. And he really likes my oak furniture, and it looks really expensive and where did I get it and how much did it cost? And he doesn't have a house and can't seem to get the job and house thing to coincide. And he used to live in San Francisco. And cilantro is good for getting mercury out of your blood.

He also asked me how many TVs we have. One. How many hours we watched TV a week. I said 2, at most. He looked at me doubtfully. I nodded. He then said the kids must all have computers in their rooms then and play computer games all the time. I said no. (WTF?)  

Then he asked me where I keep the spare lightbulbs because he needed to write down the numbers on all those too. I told him I wasn't sure where they were since we were kind of reorganizing (more like disorganizing). I told him I'd call my husband since he'd know. The guy told me not to call my husband "since he is actually working (unlike me) and not to interrupt him at his job." That I "could stand to learn a thing or two about lightbulbs." 

I was about to drop-kick the jerk but instead said, "You know, I kind of expected you to come in here and say 'yay, good job. You get a gold star, you are using lots of energy efficient bulbs.' But you just seem kind of annoyed with all the bulbs we do have. And by the way, who knows where and when they bought each bulb?"

He said, "Lots of people have photographic memories about their lightbulbs. And lots of people think they are doing the right thing by using those bulbs, but what about when the bulbs break or they burn out, then what do you do? People need to protect their families."

I said, "I  save the spent bulbs for when the recycler's toxic waste day comes along, I don't just throw them out. So I get a gold star for that. I do the same for used batteries. I recycle. Gold star for that. I even compost. We installed a high-efficiency furnace and hot water heater in the two houses we've owned. Gold star again. We don't watch tons of TV, we actually go outside, play games, talk and read. And I do take care of my family. I have to say this is a gold star day, all around. I have to give myself a big. Fat. Gold. Star. Now, you have two minutes to get out of my house because you have been here two long hours and I have to go get my kids."


And I'll take that $100 now, thank you. 

But why was I seeking approval from the lightbulb counter? I can give myself a gold star any time I please.


Donna said...

Seriously scary. Glad you lived to tell about it. Now, change the locks and then use that $100 to start your ceramic dungeons and dragons business.

Bfiles said...

this is unbelievable! I love your lecture at the end!

A Daring Adventure said...

Oh. My. GOSH.

First of all, I would have gone seriously ape$&%^ on any man who DARED to enter my home and tell me I do NOTHING. That's just a huge monster NO NO.

Second of all, you are a fabulous writer. That story, complete with the pictures- just perfect. Hilarious, and perfect.

Girl, I would have lost my mind at that man.

And then to click on your comments and come see what Donna wrote?! Oh my gosh, I almost can't breathe I'm laughing so hard!

Sara said...

What a weird creepy guy! I agree with Donna - change the locks! And get a super security system!

Shannon said...

Weird, seriously creep weird! And I have no freaking idea where I buy my light bulbs, especially years later. Geez! Why is it a problem to have someone stay home and run the family? I am tired of answering that question, you know..."what do you do all day?"