The year was 1980. A new decade and a new job. I was 20 years old and was one step into a sojourn that would last several years.
As the days got longer and turned into night, we, the warehouse workers, like moths to a flame, would gravitate toward the almighty bug light. Looking for inner peace, solace, wisdom, meaning, and a little relief from the biting bugs that lived and fed in Youngstown.
Since we had to work outside the warehouse as well as inside, the summer months were brutal with swarms of pests buzzing around. Biting flies, mosquitoes, moths, gnats, grasshoppers, locusts, bee’s, wasps, and every other flying insect under the sun would zero in on the only source of flesh and light in the vast farmland that surrounded us.
Every year, right around this time, to combat these bastards, we dragged out the giver of light and reliever of itch from the biblical swarms of insects. Thus the religion of The Eternal Bug Light was formed.
After several years, the bug light became an icon and more importantly, a God to us warehouse workers. If we were in the bug lights good graces, it would have pity on us and bestow its powers shining its light upon us and protect us by killing and keeping the insects away from us. If we were to ever fall out of favor with the almighty bug light, the consequences were so severe that no one talked about them, not even under our breath lest the bug light god hear us.
To keep the god happy, we needed to pay homage. This was in the form of an annual ceremony, a sort of Fry Me A Bug Light festival to appease the god. We would prepare the holy power cord for insertion into the electrical outlet. We would also arrange and then pay homage to the enchanted nail that magically kept the god suspended above us, and of course prepare a feast for the entire cult to consume.
The festival seemed to work as the bug light god kept us safe in the summer evenings as we heard the humming of electricity coursing through its wire mesh screens. Sometimes we would gather round our god and cheer as loud crackling and zapping noises would announce each new bug checking into the bug light hotel.
And not just bugs either. Our bug light god was a little dangerous because unlike normal lights, ours did not have a front or bottom screen guard to keep out larger objects such as a very unlucky bird or the bottom of someone’s head. The light was suspended just under 6 feet in the air, and tall worshippers who lost sight of where they were in conjunction with the light would get rudely introduced to their god. As in the bible, they would carry the mark of the beast for several weeks until the burn marks healed.
Alas, one evening, a large bird entered the radar screen of the bug light god. In an instant, the bird dive bombed into the light and got caught inside. High pitched zapping sounds were heard much like in the classic movie “Frankenstein” when the monster was struck by lightning in an electrical storm.
A huge battle had begun. The bug light flickered and hummed, summoning up all it’s power while the bird began screeching and fluttering it’s wings, till finally, both burst into flames sending the worshippers running. The bug light came crashing to the ground and we watched as the flames engulfed bird and light.
We were free of the bug light god, and a rule was sent forth that no more bug lights could adorn our warehouse wall. We stocked up on “Off” bug repellent and continued to have the festival that quickly turned into our annual lamb roast.
I can still hear and smell the bugs as they sizzled in the screens. Man, that was living….
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LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL