Saturday, October 22, 2005

A matter of pride

Our switches are boring, announced the cool cat a month or so ago.
Boring? says I.
Boring, says he.
Does a light switch need to be interesting? says I.
They're just boring, says he.
What do you mean by boring?, says I.
You know, boring, says he. He's very expressive, this one.
Some of them have motion sensors, says I. That's not boring at all!
That's not what I mean, says he. That doesn't count.
...and the conversation fades...

I shouldn't have been surprised the next evening to come home to this. There he was, the cool cat, drill in hand, electrical tape, wire caps (those neato colorful thingamajiggies that you just put on the end of a bunch of wires and twist away to make a clean and safe connection), packaging, papers, and an assortment of various and sundry other odds and ends used in the installation of non-boring light switches. We had, after all, talked about it. Therefore it was officially okay to proceed. Honestly! It's how the cool one thinks! I learned this when we 'discussed' broadband internet last year. That conversation went something like this:
.... a Friday evening in December....
Cool Cat: Comcast is having a special on cable internet.
Me: Oh? What's the catch?
Cool Cat: There's no catch. It's $x (something cheap but I don't recall the number).
Me: What about installation? The modem probably costs something.
Cool Cat: It's free.
Me: I'm sure it's only a limited time offer. There is always something in the fine print. Is there a contract required, or a minimum commitment?
Cool Cat: No, nothing like that.
Me: We don't use the internet at home enough to justify spending extra on broadband.
Cool Cat: I hate waiting for downloads.
Me: You hardly ever use the computer, and I'm on it all day and don't care to spend that much more time on it when I get home. We don't need it.
Cool Cat: No comment. Just a blank stare.
Me, sighing: We need to read the fine print and then we can talk about it. (This was most generous of me, as I was probably 36 weeks pregnant or so. Normally I'd say flat out no. We have, you see, had this conversation before. Several times.)
...and the conversation fades...
Monday evening I enter the office to check my email, and I notice a box with packaging materials and whatnot scattered about.
Me: What's that? Looking closer, I see the Comcast label.
Me, suddenly miffed: I told you we could read the fine print and then talk about it.
Cool Cat: Oh. Blank stare.
Me: We didn't make a decision.
Cool Cat: The offer was going to expire.
Me: You obviously made the decision and ordered it before we even talked about it.
Cool Cat, obviously lying: No, they're just fast. Sometimes he doesn't realize that the story just doesn't add up. Or else he just doesn't care. He is a stubborn one, he is.
...and that is how we ended up with broadband. Like I said, I was nearly due, and planning to start working from home once my maternity leave was over, at which point the need would be justified. So we got the broadband a few months early.
...and since then...
The Comcast suite has expanded to include digital cable, which then paved the way for the DVR. And each time one of these new services appears, I inquire as to its expense.
Oh, it's a special, says he. And when the promotion expires, it will actually costs us less than our current cable. So he says. I have yet to see the bills. He claims that he doesn't hide anything from me, but he is not, shall we say, forthcoming with the information.

...But this was a tale of boring lightswitches. The new switches are ultra hip, two tone, wide, and flat. (I'm not particularly fond of them. They look trendy to me, and I prefer the old fashioned non-descript switches we had before.) We have a triple switch in the entry where the first bay is a three way, which can also be switched from upstairs. We have these motion sensor switches installed in several convenient places so that we have only to walk into the zone and the light comes on automatically, for a set time. Very handy in the pantry and the bathroom. We thought it would be nice for the stairs, so we wouldn't have to look for a switch in the dark with a sleeping babe in one's arms. Thus begins the tale of the three way switch.
There's really not much of a tale to tell. I asked the cool cat if he wanted any help.
No, no, I'm fine, says he. The task begins in the late afternoon. And continues. I hear the sound of the drill, putting the plates back together. Footsteps up. Cursing. Footsteps down. More cursing. Silence (while head is being scratched, I imagine.) More drilling, undoing the plates. More silence, redoing the wiring. This cycle repeats until bed time. The cursing becomes more passionate. Still, he does not want my help. Finally, he calls it quits and puts one of the old fashioned plain switches back, defeated by the three-way motion sensor. Bed time. Another day. The weekend arrives and we drive a few hundred miles to visit my sister C. and her very capable husband D., a fine team who have built a most amazing and beautiful home together. The cool one brings up the matter of the switch with D., while we're driving around. I'm in back with my sister. I whisper to her that he won't ask me for help. I do have a degree in electrical engineering, you know. Not that one learns anything practical like house wiring in an electrical engineering program, because I certainly didn't. But I can follow a diagram, thank you very much. D offers to help if the cool one will fax the instructions over, later. But he'll have to take a look at the instructions first. I smile at my sister. I am very patient. A few weeks later, I say to the cool one, let's finish that switch installation this weekend.
Sure, says he. We've had a hole in the lightplate for weeks, since the new plate has big rectangular holes for the new switches, and the old switch requires a very small opening.
Somewhere in the midst of this tale I forgot to mention the key point that the cool one doesn't actually read instructions. He will glance at the pictures once in a while, but will rarely read anything written around the pictures, including, it would seem, the title, which addresses the specific switch configuration. The switch was, I found, wired perfectly for a two-way configuration. So. I looked at the instructions, and determined the scenario. This is what we have. This is what we want. This wire goes here. This wire goes there. This one and this one connect to that one. That one and this one connect to the other one. Those two connect to each other. And reverse on the other side. Five minutes, max. Voila! It works. Imagine that.


Blogger The Daring One said...

One of our switch plates broke and I replaced it with a fancy silver one that matches nothing else in the house. I didn't think remotely as fancy as the Cool One. Good execution.

7:59 PM, October 23, 2005  

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