Guy the lighting guy
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Guy the lighting guy

Dude walks into our house and looks up. Notes the bare compact fluorescents hanging in random spots throughout the living and dining areas. Stops at the ceiling fan over the dining table. Shakes his head grimly.

“That,” proclaims Guy the lighting guy, “is not a light.”

Aliyah DiarySteve and I stare at him, not sure how to respond. We paid good money to have that one bulb replaced with a ceiling fan installed by Uri the ceiling fan guy.

“Yes, it is,” I protest feebly.

Guy shakes his head again. “Sorry. It is not. It is darkness.”

Steve throws me a tight-jawed look as Guy continues his visual survey. The lighting consultant is not pleased. Because our apartment sits on the bottom two levels of a four-story unit built into a mountain, we have natural light on only one side.

“You will need a lot of wattage,” he says. “A lot.”

I was told that Guy arrives at clients with a laptop loaded with images of fixtures he will recommend and procure. Today, he explains, he is under pressure because he must report for reserve duty this week and has left his computer home. He will call when he’s back from the army in a couple of weeks.

“I’m not sure I can work with him,” Steve says later.

“Oh, he’s just an artiste, like Shmulik the garden guy,” I reassure him.

Shmulik is fiercely proprietary about the spectacular garden he designed for us. He had reacted to our suggested changes as if we had insulted his mother. So we abided by Shmulik’s plan, with no regrets. Whenever he comes to tend his creation, he launches into a lengthy Hebrew diatribe against the neighbors who opted for Astroturf.

We heard about Guy from a neighbor who hailed him as the best lighting consultant around. He was also recommended by Uri the ceiling fan guy.

So Steve and I decide to swallow our reservations. After 20 months in our house, replacing the bare bulbs has reached the top of our to-do list.

Following reserve duty, a death in his family, and several gentle reminders, Guy finally returns, with laptop. We ask our daughter to sit in on the planning, as much to lend moral support as to add her creative two cents.

Guy begins by suggesting that we move our dining table and china cabinet, but he backs off when we demur. In rapid succession, he clicks images on his computer illustrating the perfect fixtures for each light point in our apartment. Rarely does he offer a second option. The three of us nod in agreement, immobilized by his boundless confidence in his own decisions.

Guy’s cell phone rings incessantly, interrupting his presentation. During one such interlude, Elana leans over to me and whispers, “You know, he really doesn’t need any of us here,” and takes her novel back out to the garden swing.

We assert our preference in one area only: the kitchen. Guy wants to install something very expensive and very high-wattage. Fairly sure that we will never be required to do surgery on the kitchen table, we instead suggest a utilitarian fluorescent model. Guy gives in reluctantly.

The downstairs accounted for, we take Guy upstairs and show him the bathroom light that Steve has jerry-rigged over the medicine cabinet. Guy does not try to stifle the giggle that unfurls from his throat. When his guffaws finally abate, he explains how he will turn this aesthetic nightmare into a visually appealing and useful fixture.

As an afterthought, we ask Guy to advise us on upgrading the fixture that came with the downstairs bathroom. “Why would you change it?” he asks rhetorically, with a touch of snark. “It’s not like you spent a lot to decorate this room. You’ve got a 20-shekel mirror underneath a 20-shekel fixture. They belong together.”

This being the Middle East, no transaction is complete without the bargaining stage. Steve is ordinarily good at this. But Guy isn’t budging. “You know that my prices are excellent,” he says. “No, I don’t,” Steve replies, “because we haven’t shopped around.” Guy crosses his arms across his chest. He smiles. “So shop.”

We sign the contract without another word as he calls Ibrahim the electrician to book an installation date.

After he leaves, we look at each other and confess simultaneously that we are, despite being thoroughly intimidated, pleased as punch. Guy the lighting guy has made excellent choices within our budget and in keeping with our taste. He has saved us numerous trips to numerous lighting stores, but most of all he has saved us from the perils of our own poor judgment.

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