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Lights on no one home

23rd April 2007 • Dave

Q. How many blind people does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Just one. Providing a sighted person mentions that the old bulb is no longer working!

One of the big misconceptions about blindness is that one hundred percent of people who one may think of as blind have absolutely no vision at all. This is categorically not the case. Although as I write this I can feel the campaign for real blindness awakening somewhere out on the internet!

The truth is that most jurisdictions consider you to be blind if you have less than 5 percent usable vision in the best eye with correction. So the vast majority of legally blind people have some form of light perception. In many cases card carrying, Braille reading, Cain or guide dog using blind people can tell if a bright light is shon into the eyes, Some can tell if it is daylight outside, and some of us can tell if the house lights are on or off. The other way blind people can tell if a light bulb has gone is that the bulb no longer burns your bloody hand off!

Maybe I need to get out more but I have always been interested by the light bulb replacement policy of my friends who are blind. Some do not give a monkeys and rarely turn on the lights unless bullied into doing so. I know one bloke who only had about two working bulbs in his entire flat. When asked why he did not have any working light bulbs? He mumbled something into his beer along the lines of light bulbs being a waist of time and money and if people really wanted them they could bring their own pissing light bulbs. I know other blind people who are paranoid about the cliché and security implications of sitting around in the dark. These people tend to take a very proactive stance when it comes to light bulb replacement.

The amount of light perception one has may dictate where on this scale one lies when it comes to keeping the home illuminated. I have some light perception and in spite of the cost and energy implications, I tend to be pro having the lights on. With this in mind I noticed that two of my lounge up-lighters had gone to light bulb heaven over the past couple of weeks. Other than the significant reduction in ambient light, the bulbs being cold to the touch, the other little telltale sign was the fuse for the whole ring tripping out each time a bulb went west. Very annoying with computers rebooting all over the place. I must buy me a UPS. Anyway, I digress.

I gave one of the dead bulbs to a friend who said he may be able to get me some replacements. This was taking a little longer than I anticipated and what with the housewarming party looming on Saturday I tried to purchase replacement light bulbs for the two which had mysteriously died. I took the other fatality into a well-known high street store, which learned from BBC Four first opened in the UK in 1909 up in Liverpool. I showed the bulb to the less than enthusiastic man behind the counter. What is the matter with these people, they are about to shine a bit of light into someone’s dark and miserable world. Instead this fella that demeanour of someone who had just been told he had incorrectly answered the ¬£100 question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and would be going home with nothing. Anyway, after a bit of hmm ing and ah ing trotted of to find some replacements. He returned triumphantly through my old bulb in the bin and presented me with some replacements.

When I got out into the street I had the nagging suspicion that all was not well in lightbulb land. Over lunch I fondled my new light bulbs with increasing disquiet and could not shake off the nagging feeling that perhaps I had been sold the wrong bulbs. Well the only way to find out would be to go home and try the buggers myself! And what would you know in the event my suspicions were not unfounded and it became clear that my cheery shop assistant did not know his light bulbs and these babies were far too small for my requirements and would have to be returned to the light bulb nursery until they were a little bigger. As I no longer had any of the dead bulbs left I took one of the working bulbs to show chuckles once again the actual thing that I wanted to buy. After a pointless five minutes of him telling me that he could not leave his counter under any circumstances to find the right light bulbs and could I jus tnot accept a refund? No I could not just accept a refund I had been mis-sold a product which I had purchased in good faith on the understanding that it was equivalent to the bulb I had shown him. Well he left his counter and found the right light bulbs. However, amongst the gormlessness of it all, he through away my working bulb which I had brought from home and then could not find it when I asked for it back.

Where do they find these people? I despair!

Anyway, for what it is worth I now have shiny new light bulbs for all the good it will do me.

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