Wednesday, January 04, 2006

At Long, Long Last…Lights!

You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult. How hard could it be to get 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights for the kitchen? If I were in virtually any other part of the developed world it would be a simple matter of going to one, maybe two hardware or lighting stores and picking them up. In Eureka, it took more than 6 months.

In my last house I put in these small, nondescript halogen lights under the cabinets. They were perfect so I decided I wanted them in this kitchen as well. I planned for them and I wired for them. When the time came I went back to the same hardware store I had bought them at the last time. I went back to the electrical department and they had only one on the shelf. They had a zillion different low-voltage halogen lights but only one of the 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights left. I needed two.

I took the solo light up to the counter and asked the guy when they would be getting more in. He tapped out a few commands on the computer and told me there were 10 on order and they would be in next week. That sounded good, and I went away reasonably happy.

The next week I went in, went back to the electrical department, and only saw the same one on the shelf. I went back to the counter and ask the guy if the 10 had come in. He tapped out a few commands on the computer and said, “Umm, that’s odd. We didn’t get them in”. I cocked my right eyebrow up and said, “Yes, that is odd indeed. Very, very odd!”. He told me he’d take my number and give me a call when they came in. That sounded good and I went away…a little frustrated, but whata ya gunna do?

I got a call the next week from the hardware store and the guy told me they didn’t get them in. Surprise, surprise, surprise. At this point I had already given up on them and I had gone to every hardware and lighting store in the tri-city area looking for 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights. I found only two things: didly & squat. They do not exist in the county. Everybody carries the exact same line of low voltage halogen lights. Low voltage is fine but I had already wired for the 110 volt and I wasn’t going to have the little transformer plugged in to the kitchen counter outlets to run the under-cabinet lights.

I had also already went on-line to find them. I saw some lights that looked sort of like the halogen lights that I had put in my last house but none of them said explicitly whether they were hard-wired or the plug-in type. I didn’t want to get in to an endless cycle of ordering and returning lights by mail so I put the whole idea on the back burner for a while and prayed for divine intervention.

God didn’t come through.

One day I was back at the original hardware store for another reason and on a whim I decided to go back to the electrical department to see if maybe they had gotten some in. No such luck. There was still just the one light collecting dust on the shelf. I asked the guys at the counter again and they all scratched the dim bulbs between their shoulders and gave me no definitive reason why they could order the same product week after week and never get it in – AND – never question why they didn’t get it in.

It then dawned on me that I might be able to get what I want form the local electrical supply house (the place the pros use). This hardware store has done this for me before for specialty items where they write up a PO for the supply house, I pay the hardware store, and then take the PO to the supply house and pick up the item. The dim bulb behind the counter called the supply house and the only ones they had were 2.5-feet long and cost about $50 each. No good, by a long shot.

Again I prayed. Again God let me down.

I then decided to try the Ace Hardware web site. Eureka! They had exactly what I wanted in stock. 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet halogen lighting and they were only $19.99! I could order them via the web site and have them shipped to the store of my choice along with that stores normal warehouse order. I would have them in 4 days, I would not have to pay shipping, and the store would call me when they came in. I ordered away content in knowing I would soon have my lights. I mean, Ace Hardware is a big national chain. If they can’t get the lights then no one can. Right? Right?

Four days later Ace called to tell me my lights had not come in. How thoughtful of them. They said they would be in on the next truck which was in 3 days. They get 2 trucks a week from the warehouse. Three days later I didn’t here from them so I called. Nope, they didn’t show up. This went on for 2 weeks and again I prayed for divine intervention. I’m not really a spiritual man but praying is kind of like the lottery, right. Eventually it’ll pay off, right? Right? RIGHT?

After a few more weeks I gave up on the stupid lights. There is talk that they’re going to be building a Home Depot on the old rail yard site just outside of Old Town. It should open in 3 or 4 years, so I can just get the lights then. This is Humboldt County. This is the way we do things.

Tonight I was down at Ace getting some sandpaper. Ace is the closest hardware store to my house so I’m in there a lot – A LOT! I recognize many of The Crew and they recognize me. There is one guy there that is very knowledgeable and has helped me a lot in the past. As I walked by him tonight he was putting away stock from a big green “Ace Hardware” container. I said “'sup” and he said “Yo”. Then it dawned on me that today is Wednesday. That means they just got a delivery. Maybe my lights came in! I asked the guy about my special order and he went back to check. I tried not to get my hopes up. It’s like you really wanted that iPod for Christmas but none of the boxes under the tree are the right size. Still, you need to hope against hope that it’s there.

He came out of the back room and in his hand were two 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet halogen lights. Wooo-Hooo! A look of shock and surprise came over my face and I said – very loudly“Hey!!! They Came in!!!" He looked at me as if it was odd that someone should get so excited over two crappy halogen lights. To me it was like he had just handed me the Holy Grail.

I took my two 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights, sandpaper, and a King Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (which I'm eating right now) up to the register. While I was waiting I tallied everything up in my head and figured it should come to about $50.00. As the beautiful and charming cashier rang things up she must have only rang up one of the lights because she gave me a total of only about $30. I looked up, smiled, and silently mouthed, “Thank you God”. I quickly felt guilty (boy, that guilt thing works fast, doesn’t it) and told her she must have made a mistake. She said, “Oops, you’re right” and rang up the second of the two 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights.

I raced home and ripped open the packaging. It took me all of about a half hour to mount the lights Yippee! I have under-cabinet lighting! What a long strange product search it has been!


Deb said...

yay! that looks great!

K said...

Sorry for your long travail, but man, those look awesome!

Aaron said...

Greg, you really brightened my day. I see what you mean about not having the plugged-in kind with all the wires exposed, these look great.

Anonymous said...

They look great, and they make the redwood glow! Very cool!

Unknown said...

Greg, love reading your blog, I have similar lighting in my kitchen (hardwired 110) that I ordered from out of tulsa. I just started my blog so hopefully soon I'll have pics of my kitchen up. Your kitchen really looks great!

Greg said...

Thanks everyone. The funny thing is, I forgot to turn them on tonight when I cooked dinner!!!

Jocelyn said...

Greg- very nice- those little details make such a difference. I can so totally relate to not using new lights. It takes me a while to realize their use. It's like when I buy new clothes and don't wear them for 3 months. It must be the conserver in me.


Anonymous said...

Several pages back I read about the exercise in locating 110 volt, hard-wired, under-cabinet, halogen lights for the kitchen. Today is the first day of my search...Oh dear. I need to brighten two dark corners of my lovely kitchen which has been recently upgraded with black granite countertops. I am 67and my dream is to find, install and enjoy before I transcend to the next life. It will be all about humour in the process.

Greg said...

Good luck and God's speed!