Thursday, February 23, 2012

C-F-L spells idiot

I finally bought new filters for my vacuum after the CFL lightbulb and mercury disaster.

What? I never told you about how mercury got into our house? Pull up a chair, it's going to take a while.

So, I was being wonderful and bought a new hanging light for our house. It was handmade and it came from a seller on Etsy, see:


Oh, sorry. That's Raible. Wrong picture. She's a light in our life, and definitely one of the reasons mercury in the house could be super-detrimental.


Ahh, there it is. This lamp is one of those that involves yarn, glue, patience and finesse. It couldn't be that difficult to make, but as a Christmas present, I thought it would be lovely for our living room, so I purchased it. What can go wrong with a new lamp, right?

Oh. You just wait.

Warning signs should've gone off in my head when the box arrived. The lamp was packed by a child of 3. This, alone, should've tingled my Spidey-senses. Sitting inside the box was the light. The balloon was still inflated, to help keep the yarn and structure in tact, I'm sure, but that's all that was in the lamp. There was no stuffing, no newspaper, no Styrofoam peanuts, not handy plastic bags full of air, and no bubble wrap (everybody's favorite and noisiest way to ship). It was all by its lonesome, placed in a large box that held the woman's winter clothes. 

Yes. The box was older and in not-so-good condition, with Sharpie hand writing all over it. 

I'm surprised I even got the light in one piece, or at all.

I gave the woman a neutral rating on Etsy. Not only was the packing a bit off, but the light didn't come with the light kit that she said she would send. After the brown neutral sign was clicked, she messaged me concerned. The dialogue went something like this:

"Why, oh, why have you forsaken me? You can't rate people realistically on sites like these. You can only place positive ratings, otherwise you will be banned, hated and unfriended," she wrote. "I wish you would've told me that you did not get the light kit! If I send you the light kit, will you give me a positive rating? Pretty please with cherries and Truvia on top?"

"Ok, fine."

And so, a few days later, an envelope arrived. A simple packing envelop that you send paper in, or perhaps documents you don't really care about -- say, blackmail photographs. There was no cushion. It was not marked fragile. Steph opened it because it was the light kit.

But it wasn't just the light kit...

In the kitchen, she cut open the envelope and to her dismay there was a broken light bulb in it, it's glass shaking around at the bottom. But it wasn't just any light bulb, mind you. It was a broken CFL light bulb. The kind that has mercury in it. You know, the toxin that can cause The Mad Hatter's Disease. 

Silver glitter poofed out. These were not cremated unicorn remains, people. Oh, no. It was the mercury powder that was inside the light bulb. All over. Contaminating. 

Now who, I ask you...who in their right mind would send a light bulb in the mail, especially in an unprotected envelope that isn't marked fragile? ESPECIALLY ONE THAT IS KNOWN TO HAVE MERCURY ON THE INSIDE!

What. The. What. 

It took us an hour to clean up the mess. We sealed items into zip lock bags. We wore latex gloves so we wouldn't handle the mercury. We walked around the kitchen and living room with tape so we could use the sticky side to pick up the mercury dust. We had to make sure our puppies weren't around so they wouldn't track the mercury around. The windows had to remain open and the heat turned off so we didn't circulate the mercury throughout the house. Luckily, it was a mild winter, otherwise that would have been torture. We had accidentally vacuumed it up before we realized that was a no-no, so I had to clean out the vacuum parts since it is of the bag-less variety. 

That was how we spent a Friday evening. 

The lady who sent the hateful package received quite a nasty email, but it was too late on Etsy to tell the world that she was an idiot that ships light bulbs filled with mercury in the mail.

What does she do on the side? Send anthrax?