Friday, October 09, 2009


Make that a double

Light bulb packageOne of my car’s tail-light bulbs burned out a little while ago, and I replaced it. To the right is a photo of the package I got.

Note that it contains two bulbs — or, it did until I used one of them.

Now, given that my car has almost 180,000 miles on it and just passed its tenth birthday, you can imagine that I’ve replaced others of its tail-lamps, and, indeed, I have. According to my records, I’ve replaced two bulbs before. (That’s all? My, but these guys last a long time!) Each time, I bought a package that contained two bulbs. Each time, I put the package, with the second bulb, somewhere on the shelves in my garage.

If your garage is like my garage, you’ll know that they’re hopelessly lost in there somewhere. Perhaps they became food for a mutant breed of spider. Maybe they’re just hiding in some cranny, to be found by anthropologists in the year 2525. In any case, they’re not likely to find their way into my car.

Do the manufacturers do this on purpose? Do they know that 92.7% of them will disappear into the abyss, and have they planned it that way? “Hey, if we package them in twos, we can sell nearly twice as many! And people won’t mind, ’cause they’re cheap enough that we can get away with it.” (Note the price tag: three dollars for the pair.)

On the other hand, when I buy household bulbs I get them in packages of several — four, usually, or six — and I know where all of them are. This time, I’m stashing the car bulbs with the household ones. The spiders won’t get them there, and when next I need one...

...I have only to remember that I did this.

[Title stolen borrowed from David Sedaris, from my favourite essay in his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. Very funny book. Go buy it.]


Nathaniel Borenstein said...

I'm sure they do this on purpose -- sell you two knowing you'll lose one. But you can outsmart them by keeping the spare in your glovebox or your in-car emergency kit. You DO have an in-car emergency kit, right?

Call me Paul said...

Here's a novel concept. Replace both bulbs at once. The one that's still working has as many hours on it as the one that burned out. It's just as due. You'll get two benefits:
1) Your brake light bulbs will be of equal brightness (because the new bulb will be noticeably brighter than the old one), and,
2) You won't have to buy another two-pack of bulbs in two months when the other one goes, and you can't find the extra bulb you bought this time.

Barry Leiba said...

Paul: I actually did consider that. Only, it's not a question of two months, or even six:

«According to my records, I’ve replaced two bulbs before. (That’s all? My, but these guys last a long time!)»

Those replacements were separated by 18 months to two years or more, and one of the four taillight bulbs has still not been replaced in the ten years I've owned the car.