Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's not about the money....

This is my brother, Alan.  We are very close in age, about a year and half apart.  It doesn't seem like much of an age difference now.  But when you are young kids, it is like a lifetime.  As kids, it seemed he was always smarter, stronger, one (or two) steps ahead of me at all times. Everything I could do, he could do better.  He outsmarted me at most everything.  That said, I love him dearly and this whole story isn't really as mean as it sounds if you know us both. 

My dad, brother, and I all work together.  It is kind of a constant battle to "pull one over" on each other, in a fun way.  My brother is the hardest to fool, the slightest smirk or comment will tip him off.  Which makes getting the best of him one of the world's most rewarding accomplishments for me.

So let's backtrack a couple years.  Al had bought a small acreage north of town.  On it sat an old trailer house.  He lived in the trailer house for a couple years before tearing it down and building the beautiful house that sits there now.  At the time, Al was huge into conserving things.  Electricity being at the top of the list.  Now, I am all for conserving energy.  After all, I'm a flag waving liberal.  But when Al gets into something, he REALLY gets into something.  Intense is the word that comes to mind.

So after getting set up with the local energy coop, he was upset to learn  there was a fee for service every month, no matter how much energy you actually use.  I think it was about $35 or $40 bucks.  I live in the country and pay this fee every month as well.  He constantly complained that he only used like 4 bucks worth of electricity a month, so he feels ripped off to have to pay the service connection fee.  I always said, no, people like you are the reason they charge that fee.  I pay a LOT for electricity, so if anyone should be exempt from the fee, its customers like me.  Every bill he got, he would carefully inspect.  The slightest increase in electrical usage would send him over the edge.  Dad would ask how many dollars worth we were talking and Al would reply, "well, like a dollar.  But its about not the money, its the principle of the thing."  The lower the electric usage, the happier he was.  It was like a game for him.

Then he just went a bit overboard.  It got old.  He would be at my house and chastise me for leaving the TV on if I was not in the room with it.  He would ask why the light in the kitchen was on when I was in the living room.  "Dude, I'm going back in there in 5 minutes!"  I would say.  We were all tiring of Al and his obsession with electricity.  He was fond of saying, "I have one light bulb in the whole house.  I sit under my light bulb and read books."  No TV.  No computer.  Just the one bulb.  And his appliances, which were rarely used.

So one winter, Al decides to take off for a while and do some traveling.  He asks if I will FEED HIS WILD BIRDS WHILE HE'S GONE.  Now, there's taking care of dogs and cats, stopping to feed animals who can't feed themselves.  But he actually wanted me to feed wild birds while he was gone for three weeks in the middle of winter.  I begrudgingly agreed.  Then the idea hit me in the face like a glorious symphony.  It all became clear in my mind, the power I now had in my hands.  I was drunk with giddiness. 

So the first day I stop to feed the birds, I take along a 12 pack of light bulbs.  The old style inefficient ones.  The highest wattage his sockets could handle.  And I screwed them ALL  in.  Every last one.  And left them all on, all day and night.  Man, if you drove by that little trailer at night it was lit up like a roman candle.  If memory serves, I also took some stuff from my house and plugged it in.  A stereo.  A couple lamps.  And, as promised, I faithfully fed those birds. And the day before he was set to return, I took it all out.  He came home to the dark little place he was used to.  And then I waited....and waited....  I did not tell a soul what I was up to.  I knew it needed to be a top secret operation.  Loose lips sink ships.  So I didn't even tell  Dad, which was hard.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story....Its a good one!

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