Which Way is Up?

My husband, Tony, born and raised in New Zealand, came to live with me in America about twelve years ago. Every day – for twelve years – when he enters or leaves a room, he haphazardly flicks all the light switches in all the directions they go until they reach his desired result of on or off. It drives me nuts. Up is on, down is off. It’s like breathing.

Tony insisted the switches in New Zealand operate the other way around. On my worst days I didn’t believe him. On my best days I didn’t know why his brain could not, would not store this new information and recall it when needed. Maybe light switching isn’t in the brain, maybe it’s in the reflexes which seem harder to rewire. I finally settled on a theory that all this furious light switching could be attributed to Tony’s basic personality which has two speeds: Off and High. It’s a simple way to live, really, and he has developed a formula that works for all his endeavors. Just three easy steps (step 2 optional):

  1. Attempt
  2. Attempt
  3. Hulk Smash

Being a member of the more refined gender, I solve problems with my gold-plated bracelets and pirouette moves like Wonder Woman. New Zealand light switches would prove no worthy foe for this switched-on super hero. Or so I thought. I’ll be darned. In my defense (and his – rats!), the switches are a different shape in New Zealand. Smaller, flatter, without the long bit sticking out. They are more like a toggle switch and, consequently, are up(ish) when off and down(ish) when on. So my husband was right (might have to make this a private post); they are opposite here. No sweat, I got this. One switch on the switch plate, no problem. Victory is mine! However, one room in our house has five switches for various lights in that area and our bathroom has four: two different lights, a fan, and a heater. Flustered and defeated, I frantically flick until my son feels like he’s taking a disco shower.

People most often want to know if toilet water flushes in the opposite direction down here. I would love to quench their curiosity but – dammit – it’s dark in that room and I don’t seem to be any help in shedding light on that situation. I guess we will never know!

Kiwi Glossary: Hard case. A tough or obstinate, but generally likable, person. At the meeting today, Barry told the lead sales rep to jog on. Hard case, ‘ey?


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