Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Many Polaks Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Real answers to real life questions, here. That's what we're about. Knowing the answer to that question may one day be of some moment to you, as it was for me. And while I'm proud to possibly be the first person to blog about this, I still wish someone had done it before me and I had read it and been saved a small amount of stress.

Greg recently calculated that we can save as much as $6 in gas on the drive to church simply by leaving on time so we don't have to speed. You're right if you're thinking that maybe our chapel isn't 3 blocks away or even across town. We have a two hour drive (to Cracow). And gas isn't four dollars a gallon, either. It's almost twice that.

Greg's church calling requires him to visit three branches, and we take turns visiting each of them. The previously mentioned Cracow branch is our "home" branch, as it's the nearest. This Saturday, however, we headed out to Wroclaw (the farthest), a city about a five hour drive from where we live (not including stops). Greg had an afternoon meeting there so we were doing our usual stay over in a hotel in order to attend that branch on Sunday. We knew there was big money to be saved by leaving extra early on this one. First we had to go to Greg's work so he could print out some documents for his meeting. His computer kept freezing and that took longer than expected. Then, on our way out of town he stopped at our local Opel dealer and explained that one of our headlights was recently replaced and it was at the wrong angle, so it needed to be adjusted (sidenote: in Poland-possibly the entire EU- you have to have your headlights on day and night year long--except for when you're not driving it, then they can be off, I believe).

Greg parked in the parking lot and assumed that they would just have someone run out and make the adjustment. No, we had to drive into the shop. Two men started working on the headlight. After about five minutes I was a little perplexed as to why we were still there. Then they called in the third guy. Another 10 minutes of work. Finally they call in guy number four. They're adjusting, turning the tires, turning the lights off and on etc. while Greg stands around with them providing the comic relief and I'm sitting with the kids in the car trying to make them forget that we're sitting in the car, just like we will be for the next 5-6 hours.

So the answer to the question posed in the title of this post would be 5. It takes five Polaks to change a lightbulb; four that work at the auto shop and one customer to cheer them along. It also takes those five Polaks 35 minutes to change that bulb. But, to be fair, and also in order not to completely deceive you, this had not a whit to do with their nationality. It had everything to do with the car:

Opel Zafira

This is what our car looks like, except ours is beige-ish. Panna cotta, to be exact (sounds significantly nicer than beige-ish, but doesn't give you any idea of the actual color unless you're a total foodie [or a regular foodie. Or an Italian speaker. I wouldn't know; I am none of the above.] and know what panna cotta is. Still, I imagine real panna cotta doesn't have all the pretty sparkles in it like our panna cotta Opel does.). Doesn't this car just have the cutest nose? Well, this picture doesn't really do it justice. I love the front of this car. Unfortunately the designers of this car made the same mistake designers of highly fashionable clothing often make. They threw practicality to the wind, as no single human being, especially one who doesn't work for Opel, would ever be able to change a headlight on their own in under an hour.

And I'm like, "What's up with that?"

And then we finally get on our way and realize that the extra hour we gave ourselves is gone and Greg is about a half an hour late for his meeting. Maybe that math doesn't add up (I'm only good at Geometry and there were no angles in this problem), but that's how the story goes.

21 comments:

Heather of the EO said...

I can't believe how far you have to drive. Holy cow!
And of course this was hilarious, as usual. I mean, not that you have to drive and spend millions of dollars on gas, but the light bulb part. :)

McEwens said...

What a drive! I hope you know how glad I am you blog! It is so interesting to see how things works and run in poland. I am pretty sure none of us drive 5 hours for church (maybe the temple) but not church!

Glad to know the answer to the riddle! Too bad it wasnt a riddle and was real life!

Thora said...

Wow, I can't believe that you drive two hours to church (at least) every Sunday. I can see why it's hard to live here, but I can also appreciate even more your recent post about the general authority and you in Poland.
That's great that the Church and worship is that important to you. The first week we were in England we walked to Church, and everyone thought we were crazy there, and that was only a one time thing (it was two and half hours).

I thought at first this was going to be a lightbulb joke. Also when we first moved to England (yeah, I know I mention it in every comment. It's just my most recent biggest, I was in a foreign country experience) we couldn't figure out how to put in a lightbulb at all (they don't screw in, they click in somehow) and a maintenance man had to come and put it in for us. So, how long does it take for two Americans to put in a lightbulb? Forever (since I still don't know how. The maintenance man put them in the whole time we lived there.).

KC said...

how many Americans does it take to turn on a European car's headlights?

Apparently they are incapable of doing it at all. Well, at least me and my parents are. We drove a Mercedes in France for about a week and had to stop at a gas station so that someone could simply pull out the lever that we had been trying to turn.

Your car does look very cute, even if headlight changing is a challenge!

Melanie J said...

Man! I used to think driving an hour to get to some of the wards in our stake was far. Two hours to church! Whoa.....!

Kazzy said...

I think it takes a person living in Poland to actually get away with your title, but I loved it because it was so literal! That surely is a lot of time on the car for your family, but what a great example to your kids of sacrifice and commitment. Our church is about two blocks away and we still end up driving much too often. I am going to share your dilemma with my fam tonight. Thanks!

Becky said...

You are fantastic (and your little car, too)!! If I were in your shoes, this would have turned out to be the whiniest post known to Mormon Mommy bloggers. Poor me, church is so far away, stinkin' mechanics, etc. But you're all, "Whatever, man, that's just the way things roll around here. No big." Seriously, you are fabulous.

Erin said...

any chance you can be reimbursed for gas? At least for trips to Wroclaw would be nice--that is a hefty sum. In the states you could deduct the miles on taxes if you are paying for them yourself, but I don't know that they do that in Poland.

Your car is way cool and this post was hilarious.

Lisa said...

I remember our first Sunday after we moved here we took a bus three hours to go to church (and did for the first year, before we bought a car, shortening the trip by an hour). I remember thinking, "Oh! That's what going to church is for us now." Really, we go to church on Sunday just like the rest of you. If you were in our situation you'd be doing the same thing. You don't just NOT go to church!

And for the record, we are reimbursed for gas we use when we travel past Cracow. We're also reimbursed for hotel expenses. But mostly we get far more blessings than we deserve for the extra travel!

Kimberly said...

And to think I was grumpy over driving 3.5 hours to Stake Conference. Nice to have that put in perspective!

Jen said...

Wow. That's a really long drive. And I'm talking about the two hour one.

I used to feel bad for the outlyers in our stake who have a 45 min drive for stake meetings.

You guys are amazing!

Melissa Bastow said...

Wow....now I feel like I'm FOR SURE getting kicked out of the Celestial Kingdom. Last week I just didn't feel like going....to our church around the corner....because it starts at 8:30 and the baby kept me up during the night and I knew that I would be in the nursery with my toddler anyway. Driving 5 hours to a different branch really puts things into perspective. I'm just a whiner..... And I should probably make sure I'm at church next week!

And that stinks about your light changing difficulties - although I agree, your car has a very cute nose.

Alison Wonderland said...

I hate being late and I hate being rushed. I plan it leave 15 mins early for church that is basically around the block. I'm not sure how early I would insist on leaving if church were that far away.

Me plus 3 Hecks said...

FUNNY. Way to go on the title--totally hooked me! :) Interesting color of car, by the way. The creator of that car doesn't also happen to manufacture colored pencils, do they? :)

jonesfamily said...

That's great that you and Greg kept your cools (great, huh?). I think I would have handled it much worse!

Moody said...

I will never complain again that our local church is a long drive. Wow, I'm impressed at your dedication. And 5 Pollaks to change a lightbulb, huh? Too funny! Your car is very cute btw.

Jill said...

We used to live 4 houses away from our church, and we still couldn't get there on time.

5 hours? That's one serious commute.

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

You are hilarious!!!! I'm staying up late tonight waiting for hubby who is out late and blog surfing and thought I'll visit Lisa in Poland tonight :-) So glad! I was already giggling just reading the title! On a serious note, I can't believe how far you have to drive for church. I'll think of you next time I start complaining why we have to go to the meeting house across town instead of just down the strret just because we live on the wrong side of the ward boundaries.

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

Whew, I'm exhausted just reading it. I really like your blog! Blessings, Whitney

Susan said...

I wish you could get books on tape/cd. I know your kids are approximately the best travelers in the world, but books on cd make the driving so enjoyable mine often want to stay in the car just to keep listening, even when we arrive at our destination!

charrette said...

That lightbulb line actually appears in my husband's latest movie. (I'm very proud of it because I personally contributed that line. And it makes a very awkward situation hilarious!)

But I LOVE that it's coming from You, here, now!

And I would most like to comment on...Panna Cotta.
My favorite dessert. Of all time. I can send you a killer recipe. But the very best I've ever had was in a restaurant called Celestino in Pasadena, CA where we used to live. (I'm an avowed and admitted food snob.) :)