I appreciate energy conservation. Truly, I do. Turn things off when you're not using them? Good idea. Unplug them? I'm all for it.
But! I'm wary of people who toe the line between careful and crazy. And there's been something about the combination of expensive electricity and microwaves in both the families I've lived with in Peru that has pushed them just a leeetle closer to that line.
Last semester my first host mother always wanted the microwave number left on zero. She thought it conserved energy. I tentatively raised doubts about this; she confidently squashed them. Whatevs. Or it would've been, but I could not for the life of me remember to do it. And believe it or not, it became a major point of contention and stress. I got up at 2 AM one night because I remembered that I hadn't left the microwave on 0, and knew I very well could receive an email about it the next day. I feel like I've told this story to about a bazillion people. Forgive me if you're one of them.
This semester my family goes for the much more logical route of unplugging the microwave, which does in fact save electricity. I'm fairly confident that I've never forgotten, but then, I don't really have much occasion to use it anyway. So that could be more of a lucky coincidence than a matter of pride.
AND YET, despite this success, I'm still catching flack on the microwave issue! Apparently, someone, someone else, in this house left the microwave plugged in the other day (come forward and name yourself!), and I have had no less than three very serious discussions about desenchufando la microonda.
Sheesh. Peruvian microwaves have it out for me I think. They rack up their numbers and plug themselves in while no one's looking. And then snicker at me with the toaster while basking in their stolen energy baths.