I broke my first flashlight at 13. It was a compact maglite, built to keep me safe during the scout jamborees and band camp. It sat in my pocket as a lightweight reminder that I was prepared.
Prepared to fight a burglar.
Prepared to fix the circuit breaker in a black out.
Prepared to kill a spider in my sister’s bedroom during the blackout that crawled up her arm before being flung across the bedspread.
But before the end of the second week, my batteries were dead. In the crux of my newly born passion for flashlights, my energy source had been sucked dry. With no means of making it to the store, I asked my mother for more money.
“One small investment,” I pleaded. “It WILL make the difference between OUR safety or OUR sorrow.”
I pronounced each word carefully, straining to find the right angle to help her see the light. She looked at me expressionless, soaking in my junior sales pitch with no inclination to lean one way or the other. Rubbing the ball of her foot into the hard tile, she waited for me to finish my lecture on the importance of rechargeable batteries, and how they would save us millions. As I concluded, she reached into her faded blue jeans and produced a folded piece of paper from a yellow legal pad.
“You make some great points,” she agreed. “But batteries don’t grow on trees.”
She handed me the folded paper, and launched a campaign of her own. She didn’t have to explain that rechargeable batteries were expensive. She didn’t have to explain that pennies saved are pennies more sweetly earned. She merely created a lane and asked me to stay in it. She was shining a light of her own.
So I worked, and began saving for a four pack of AAA batteries for my Mini Maglite. After one month, and some extra chores, I had enough for some batteries. By the end of the second month, I had bought another pack of AAA, a new mini-flashlight, and a charger for my batteries. Thanks to a lucrative packed lunch and canned soda business during lunch hours, I was making a killing. Now, more than a decade later, I own more flashlights than I will ever need. My battery supply is plentiful, and I will never need to worry about running out again.
And I paid for it all with MY sweat. MY tiny tan hands swept, wiped, and dragged garbage to the light.
Sweet, LED light.
In gentle reverence to the noble battery, I offer up several haiku poems from my private collection. Enjoy.
Selections from General LuPont’s Batteries over Broadway: A Celebration of Energy
Batteries, I think
power life-forces mad quick
but it never lasts.
They breathe life in two
AA, AAA, give
whole circuits thrive
They dance gingerly
The acid corrodes their stage
Soon it shines no more
Battery sits caged
Plastic cartons won’t protect