I have been changing light bulbs for the best part of 30 years, now, and for around 20 of those I have been the primary light-bulb-replacer in my place of residence. I have, it is fair to say, changed a fair few light bulbs in my lifetime. I have changed light bulbs in 10 countries (Romania is the 10th country I have lived in), including in an underdeveloped tropical island nation, and a place which was living under an illegal and brutal occupation in which power cuts were the norm. I include this background not to brag about my lightbulb changing past - on the contrary, I presume I have changed no more lightbulbs than most adults - but to make it clear that I have some normal levels of experience in replacing bulbs.
However, in all my years of lightbulb changing, I have never really had a problem with the assignment. Unscrew burned out bulb, screw in new bulb. It's not an especially challenging task. Except, that is, in Romania. Here it is a minefield of potential problems, and I have no idea why. When you unscrew a lightbulb here you have to be prepared for this simple act to go horribly wrong - either the bulb itself falls to pieces or the fitting does. I've unscrewed bulbs and ended up with the glass bit in my hand and the metal screw in bit left in the socket. I've unscrewed bulbs which leave behind a metal sleeve of some kind in the socket. I've unscrewed bulbs that bring with them the threaded metal sleeve that lines the bakelite fitting itself. I've unscrewed bulbs that have left the bakelite fitting (is it bakelite?) crumbling into little pieces. It's important to note here, that I live in Romania now, in the 21st century, in the European Union, not in Romania in the 1980s under a regime in which most things were made poorly.
I would say on about 50% percent of occasions when I change a bulb in this country, this simple operation goes horribly wrong and leaves me standing on a chair with a pair of pliers in danger of electrocution trying to extract something from something else that shouldn't be locked together. Truly, light bulbs and the fittings in this country are bloody awful. In all my previous years of changing bulbs I had never once had any difficulty with the act. Here, I feel grateful if it goes smoothly. Now some of the fittings and even possibly one or two of the bulbs probably predate 1989, but even the ones which I know to be new tend to suffer from the same problem. It's really, really crap. I bet most people in this country don't even know that it should be a simple task every time, hence the lack of protest movements and people out on the street with banners reading "Forget Graft, Start by Fixing the Sodding Lightbulbs" or "Hai Romania, Hai Lightbulbs"
Podcast 90: The Rest Of The Season, Decided
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