Monday, March 21, 2016

Lights Out

I’ve never been a fan of the “lights out” rule. Church camps and other places I went as a kid always seemed to have this rule, as well as at my dad’s house. It’s not that I was afraid of the dark, but the fact that the real intent of this rule was to force me to go to sleep. Not a fan of sleep either and for the same reason I don’t like the “lights out” rule, I can’t get much done.

When I lived at home, I solved the problem by using a flashlight to read, or as I did once, by wiring about six night-lights to a switch near my bed. If I heard my dad coming up the steps, one flick of the switch and I was in compliance! Of course, that meant trying to convince him that I was asleep when he came to check and that was not always too successful.

When I was a teenager, I attended a church youth camp where, once again, they had a lights out rule. The Camp Counselor, who stayed in the dorm with us, was of the persuasion that “lights out” actually meant lights out, and shared his opinion with us in the form of a lecture. There were no exceptions, he said. He’d turn the switch off and after waiting a few minutes for things to cool down, took the bulb out of the ceiling—the only bulb—and didn’t replace it until the next day. With no other lights in the dorm and without a flashlight, the first night, I had no choice but to lay there in the dark.

By the next night though, I had a plan.

Outside the cabin was a security light. The fixture directed the light away from the dorm but I saw that could easily be changed. So, waiting until everyone was involved with other activities, I “wandered” off and returned to the dorm. It was a simple matter to climb the short pole and bend the fixture, aiming it right at the big window on the side of the building. Then, inside the dorm, I took down the curtain and hid it.

No one seemed to notice anything until the call came for lights out. The Counselor turned off the switch, but the whole place remained lit up. Not as bright as before but enough. Well, all the other campers thought it was great but the Counselor wasn’t so easily impressed. He demanded to know who had done that to the light. Me, being unassuming, and not liking to make my presence known, I said nothing.

Then came the fun part. In order to look for the curtain, or something to cover the window, the Counselor felt he needed more light and turned the switch on. And I promptly turned it back off; reminding him that lights out meant lights out—no exceptions. Several of the other campers echoed my “friendly” reminder, which was nice because it then wasn’t so obvious that I had been the guilty party!

Eventually, the guy found the curtain and covered up the window. But by this time, everyone was riled up and it was a few hours past our lights out curfew when we finally went to sleep. The next day, someone had fixed the security light and, once again, at lights out, we were plunged into darkness.

Figuring I had won—at least a small battle—and made my point, I was content to leave things alone the rest of the week. And for the rest of the week no one said a word about the incident to me. However, when it came time to leave, the Counselor pulled me aside and handed me a flashlight. “This will save you some trouble the next time you need some light.” That was all he said. But it was enough to let me know my little prank hadn’t left him in the dark! ~

Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook at and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.


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