A potato by any other name (or how many English teachers does it take to change a lightbulb?)

We have not one but two broken light bulbs in our houseโ€”both still in their sockets (if a broken mirror is an omen of seven years of bad luck, I’m not sure what our situation portends). My husband had heard that there is a tool designed to remove such bulbs safely. We are both English teachers who know our limits when it comes to even the simplest home repair, so…

Last week I walk into Home Depot to buy a new toilet to replace our 1939 model that finally gave up the ghost and the gush, and, while I’m there, I ask an employee, “Do you have the tool that removes a light bulb that has broken in its socket?”

He’s obviously never heard of such a thing, but he leaves to ask someone in the electrical department. When he returns, he says that there is such a tool (called a potato) and that they don’t carry it, but I might try a hardware store.

The next day my husband and I visit our local Ace Hardware. We approach the first worker we see.

“Excuse me. We are wondering if you have a device called a potato that is used to take out broken light bulbs. Someone told us you might sell it here.”

A moment of silence.

He doesn’t laugh out loud, not yet. I’m sure that came after we left the store.

What he says is this, with the kind of slow pronunciation one reserves for young children or post-anesthetic patients: “It’s a potato.”

Oh. “Like the kind we would find in a grocery store?”


Next time, I’ll ask Google:

9 thoughts on “A potato by any other name (or how many English teachers does it take to change a lightbulb?)

  1. An honest mistake. It happens to everyone at some point. But it reminds me of a ‘Home Improvement’ episode where Tim sticks a potato on the bulb while the lamp is still plugged in. Shocking!

  2. 1. I can’t believe the guy told you to go check a hardware store instead of a grocery store, the punk!
    2. *falls over laughing*

    I’d have probably done the same though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this story this morning, Lisa! This laugh was just what I needed to start the day.
    I really do think that clerk was a lout for misdirecting you, but I am sure he is having quite the chuckle as well!

  4. Humor is healthy. Thanks for sharing the silliness. Home improvement is full of surprising ‘home remedies.’

  5. I love it! Great way to start the week.

    Home Depot must have its share of stories like that. A number of years ago, my husband asked me for a wireless router for Christmas. Well, he used to be into wood working, so Home Depot is the logical place, right? Not.

  6. Thank you all for these comments! I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this kind of thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad I could brighten the day a bit.

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