My life with servants


I love an obedient nightlight

Glutton or prankster -- I can't decide

Later I will wipe that smile off its face -- I prefer a less self-satisfied toilet lid, but my husband likes it














I’m old school and consider my appliances, furniture, and gadgets to be servants. I’ve heard all the debates about furniture rights and gadget liberation, but frankly, I find it beneficial to maintain clear boundaries. And although I’m worried that the bedroom set may read this blog, I’m going to write about some of the gadgets we use that have made my life bearable.

Those motion detector lights that I wrote about yesterday; we employ some in our house. One works in the garage, and as I leave each day to go to school, it says, “Watch your step, my lovely. And have a nice day.” Cheeky, but sweet.

Another one stays in the entryway between the garage and the office. This light usually says something like, “I’m sorry I can’t open the door for you, but I do what I can do.” It does double duty because the entryway is also the landing of the stairwell to the basement. That’s where the washer and dryer wait, wondering why they only see me on the weekends. We’re on speaking terms, but barely.

We also have motion detector nightlights in each bathroom and one in the front hall. They don’t require any arm waving to turn on, and they stay lit up almost two minutes after you leave the room. I love obedience, especially in nightlights. The bathroom ones are a bit chatty, and say things like, “May I help you tonight? Not sure where to put your hiney? Let me show you. No, I’m not looking.” The one in the hallway is a bit obsequious and always calls me Madam: “Good morning, Madam. Watch your toes. Madam looks like she needs coffee. The kitchen is this way.” I suspect it would like to move to the living room to be able to watch the TV. Not going to happen. My coffee pot is mercifully silent when it offers me a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It’s one of my favorites.

I try not to speak ill of the servants, but I am uneasy about the motion-operated garbage can. I haven’t decided if it is greedy or just likes to joke around. It works fine, but half the time when I walk by, it opens it maw and asks for more. It has startled both the grandchild and me several times.

My husband has his favorites, too. One is the automatic toilet lid. I personally think it puts on airs. It’s not really automatic. When it is in the upright position, you still have to give it a small push to make it go down. But once you do, it moves along at a steady pace. Then it settles down to do the somewhat thankless job of a toilet lid. I shouldn’t complain; it carries its load.

I could go on, but it’s Saturday. All week long I’ve pushed dirty clothes down the laundry chute. Now I’ve got two resentful appliances to face.

Let there be light


Regularly appearing on TV

At the place of instruction where I instruct on a daily basis, we have motion detector lights in most of the classrooms and offices. Some of them work better than others.In the classroom I use the most, you have to walk around a bit, wave your arms, jump up and down, and do all kinds of crazy things to get the lights to turn on.  I’m sure I look strange to all of the random people walking the halls. (I use random in the informal sense of  “odd and unpredictable in an amusing way.” This adequately describes both my colleagues and most of the students.)


My instructing place this semester is at a smaller campus that is a satellite of the bigger campus, so when we have staff meetings, I attend via interactive TV. While everyone else gathers in a room 30 miles away, I sit in an office staring at a TV, doodling listening and recording my thoughts pictorially. I can see all of  the instructors on my screen, so they look rather small. I’m the only one on my side, so they get a close up of me and can see every move I make.


Device used to mute me

The microphone is a small device that looks like the triangular-shaped weapon (shuriken) used by ninjas. It sits on the table and includes a speaker button and a mute button. Sadly, I can only mute myself; there is no “mute them” button. If I leave the speaker on and at a level my colleagues can hear me, every sound I make is amplified. They tell me that when I yawn, I sound like a very bored moose. So I mute myself and do a lot of staring during the meetings.


When the director of our program joins us, I try to stare intelligently, stifle my moose impressions, and write copious notes that include “blah, blah, blah” a copious number of times. Thankfully, no one ever sees this copiosity.


Two weeks ago, the director joined us and brought papers full of numbers and charts to share. The ITV is set up so that items can be put on a document reader and then shown on my TV screen. As you can imagine, it was mesmerizing. So fascinating that I was not only struck dumb, but struck still. Caught up in the drama and suspense of all those numbers, counting on them to come through, worried they wouldn’t, I was paralyzed with interest. (By the look in your eyes as I watch you through your computer camera, I can see you are equally mesmerized just thinking about it.*)


Page after page the plot unfolded. Could Test Results ever satisfy Big Government? Was he cheating on her with Client Reporting? And who was Demographics really?  Just before the exciting denouement, the lights in my room went out. I did the only thing I knew to do; I began to wave my arms wildly.


All I could see on my TV was the document. I couldn’t see the staff or director, so I forgot that they could see me. The director stopped in mid-sentence, it became very quiet, and and then she said to staff, “What is she doing?”


Did I mention that I was sort of doing jazz hands as I waved my arms around?


It’s one of the ways I get the lights on in my classroom. The other way is to bend at the waist and make a bowing motion like you do before a potentate. Thank goodness, I didn’t do that in the meeting.



*I am totally kidding about seeing you through your computer camera. That’s ridiculous. You don’t look mesmerized. But I must say, that hairstyle suits you.