Dear Car Talk:
I'm sure, like many others, I've accumulated unused automotive light bulbs for cars I no longer own (the result of being forced to buy two-packs when only one bulb is needed).
Is there someplace I can donate them, so they can be used by someone? I'd hate to throw perfectly good bulbs into the landfill. -- Jim
Ah yes, the bulb orphanage, Jim. We all have one.
You might take a lesson from our esteemed producer, Doug Berman. Last year, he ordered something from Amazon. I think it was an extra-large tube of hemorrhoid cream or something.
The next day, a box shows up at his door. He opens it up, and in the box is not what he ordered, but a set of brake shoes for a 1987 Buick LeSabre. He doesn't have a 1987 Buick LeSabre. But he does have itching and burning.
So, he calls Amazon and says "you guys sent me brake shoes by accident. Can you send me what I actually ordered -- ASAP -- and I'll send you back these brake shoes?" Amazon says "Don't send them back. It costs us more to ship them back than they're worth. Do whatever you want with them."
Well, like you, Dougie doesn't want to throw them out, so he takes them down the street to a repair shop. And he explains to the woman at the desk what happened, and asks if, by any chance, she wants to trade the brake shoes for some Preparation H.
No, he offers them to her and says, maybe you'll have a customer who's going through some tough times and you'll be able to help them out. She happily accepts the donation, and -- as far as we know, there are four fewer brake shoes in the landfill now.
So, try your own mechanic, Jim. Or try a shop nearby. Put them in a box, donate them, and let the shop add them to their bulb inventory. And either some lucky customer will be thrilled that an older, unusual bulb is in stock just when he or she needs one, or the shop will toss them in the landfill.
Even if your old car doesn't start, it can start conversations that will help all of us learn more about the world. Donate your old car to your favorite NPR station. Here's how.