in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Stairway Lights and the Two-Way Switches

A little change of pace today, but bear with me. There is a point to this, but you need some background first.

This is a photo of the stairway from the sidewalk up to the patio outside my second-floor loft apartment where I have lived for over two years as it appears from the “back yard.” That gray thing hanging on the rail around the landing up there is a wet towel hung out to dry. Sorry about that. I use the space underneath the stairs for a little storage area. Don’t look at that stuff. You can see the water heater sitting on the shelf up top to the right. Because of the climate, we do not bother to enclose such things. Disregard that. The big white tank on the roof to the right is the water reservoir. The water system is gravity fed. You can look at that tank if you wish, but it is irrelevant for our purposes here. By the way that is tennis court number one on the left, which has nothing to do with any of this either. I am trying to direct your attention to the stairs.

See those three round white things on the wall next to the stairs? Those are the lights for my stairway. There are also lights like that around the inside of the retaining wall of the patio that light up the floor of the patio at night, but those patio lights are not the subject at hand.

There. There is the stairway with those three lights clearly visible on the wall. That white tube carries the runoff from the patio in the rainy season and shoots the rainwater onto the sidewalk below. That white tube has nothing to do with this. The thing that has everything to do with this is not in this photo at all. That is one of the two two-way switches that control those stairway lights, which was beside my left arm on the wall at the foot of the stairs when I took this photo back at the beginning of August. You can barely see it in the first photo above at the bottom left of the wall. The other two-way switch that controls these stairway lights is up beside the door to my apartment.

I think that everyone generally understands the idea behind two-way switches at the top and bottom of a stairway. They allow one to turn the stairway lights on and off from either the bottom or the top of the stairs. That was certainly the idea behind the two two-way switches here, one at the bottom of the stairs and one beside my door up top. That was a good idea because it is dark back there at night. Extremely dark. We do not waste a lot of electricity on exterior lighting at night in Mexico. We turn on an outside light only for special occasions. There are relatively few street lights in this town, for example, which takes some getting used to for a new arrival from the far north. It is dark at night, which–when you stop to think about it–is how God planned it.

As I said, these two-way switches were a good idea . . . in theory. They are not wired correctly, however. Consequently, when I leave in the daytime knowing that I will not return until it is dark, I must make two or three trips up and down the stairs to get the two-way switches each set in a fashion so that I can turn the lights on at the bottom of the stairs when I get home in the dark with one flick of the switch. Of course about half the time I forget to do that on the way out in the late afternoon sunshine.

When I come home in the dark to find that the bottom two-way switch does not turn on the stairway lights, I am disappointed. I really, really like those stairway lights. I like those stairway lights every bit as much as I like the other lights that light up the floor of my patio at night. So what I usually do in that situation is feel my way up the stairs in the dark and flip the switch by my door. Then I feel my way back down the dark stairs and try again to turn the lights on with the bottom switch. If I am lucky, I can get those stairway lights on with only one round trip up and down the stairs in the dark. Then I can walk up the stairway, proud as you please, with the stairway lights on.

Now, you might ask why I do not speak with the landlord and request that the two-way switches be rewired correctly. All I can tell you is that when silly thoughts like that start to cross your mind, it is time to pack up all your stuff in the pickup truck and head back to the United States of America.

5 Responses to “Stairway Lights and the Two-Way Switches”

    • StephenBrassawe

      I must have done something right in the composition of this nonsense, Angeline, because you caught the spirit of what I wanted to convey perfectly.

    • StephenBrassawe

      How delighted and honored I am that you stopped by, Jamie. “Life in free-verse.” I am going to steal that and use it as if it were my own.

      An expatriate friend, who has now lived in Latin America for more than ten years, is fond of saying with regard to life here that the devil is in the detail. I take issue with that. It is the better angels who are in the detail, and they are a delightfully mischievous lot.


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