Old habits die hard

November 3, 2011

By Pat Detmer

During the first windstorm of fall, the lights flickered, but never went out. Our power providers have taken great strides when it comes to reducing outages in Newcastle. I remember when we used to have long spans without power, dark times that the Sainted One and I took in stride by drinking far too much alcohol and griping about the fact that the south Bellevue hills — which we could see from our cold and gloomy house — always seemed to be lit up like a rolling sea of massive Christmas ships.

Perhaps the most galling thing about power loss is how it shows you, time and time again, just how stupid you can be when it comes to mindless daily action, those little things that you do automatically and unconsciously, like flipping on the light switch upon entering an internal closet. You know that the electricity is out. You know it because you’ve already entered the windowless closet three times since the outage began. But you still flip that switch as if you expect the lights to magically come on in spite of that knowledge.

I believe that’s one of the definitions of insanity.

To make ourselves laugh and feel better about our misfiring brain synapses, The Sainted One and I always call out the number of times that we hit the switch, e.g.: “Number 7!” But since we’ve also named that closet “The Sound-Proof Booth,” most of those admissions go unheard, which might be best for all egos concerned.

Proving that we’re creatures of habit while outside of our home as well as in it, we’ve recently had the same kind of reaction while driving on local roads. Many years ago I wrote an article suggesting that our motto should be “Newcastle: City of Speed Bumps.” We have a lot of them, and we’ve become accustomed to the act of slowing down to go over them. And if you actually read road signs, they also thoughtfully provide one with the word “Bump” a few yards before you hit it.

They recently repaved 122nd Place Southeast and parts of Southeast 75th Place, which is a route that we regularly take through and over Lake Washington Crest. They’ve yet to replace the speed bumps. But after years and years of going by the warning sign and slowing down at the same spot, we still dutifully brake and drive 7 miles an hour over … nothing. Nothing! We always note it, feel like idiots and laugh really hard. But in the past week or so, we’ve finally let go of our old habits and are blowing over the former bump locations at the speed limit.

When they finally replace those things, I’m pretty sure we’ll need a quote on undercarriage replacement.

You can reach Pat Detmer — whose niece lives near those streets, is seven months pregnant, and is grateful for the no-bump bladder relief — at patdetmer@aol.com.

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