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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Secrete Life and Death of Appliances

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for the movie

 What is it about appliances that when one dies, the others join in?  Do they have some kind of electromagnetic suicide pack that they all agree to in the factory?  Are they mechanically joined at the plug at birth so that when one goes, the other follows?  Is there a master engineer/financial mass controller that manipulates each appliance so that just as income marginally exceeds the outgo, another appliance bites the dust?

Whatever the cause, our dishwasher has joined our washing machine in that great dump yard in the sky; (well, except our appliances never make it to the dump ground, spare parts you know, unless you consider our barn a dump…which I do.)

So it was off to the big box store with hubby and two kids in tow to replace “Blacky”.  Yes, we have integrated appliances.  “Black out!  Black out!” I yelled as we entered the store.  Everyone looked at the still burning ceiling fixtures. “I mean my black dishwasher is out.  I need a replacement NOW.”  Fortunately one of my former students was working in the appliance department that day and was an authority on cross-brain functions of retired teachers and was fluent in Worsham.  “Refrigerator, 
dryer, or dishwasher?” she asked.  “Dishwasher,” I replied, relieved. She led us to two long rows of dishwashers.

You would think after recently purchasing a new washing machine that I would be prepared for the unlimited combinations and the lack of simplicity.  Not so.  It was as if all appliances had been prepared according to E=MC 2, Mrs. Einstein’s theory, every appliance equals Many Controls not 2.  There was quick wash, sani-wash, short wash, long wash, delayed wash, energy wash, rinse only, sense wash, wash and hold, hold and wash, rinse and wash, hot dry, cool dry, energy saving dry, blow dry. There were dishwashers with controls on the door, controls hidden in the top of the door, controls with knobs, buttons, even touch pads.  The only think simple was color choice:  stainless, black, or white. 

As I walked down aisle one trying to make a logical decision, the eleven-year-old became bored.  Being the creative child he is, he found a way to entertain himself and the crowd that had gathered.  As I turned down aisle two, between the GE dishwasher and the Whirlpool was an empty cavity where a dishwasher had been.  My eleven-year-old had folded himself into the cavity and was doing his impression of the Maytag Guy, happily gathering into his arms the McDonald’s cups, straws, and McFlurry spoons the teenager was feeding him.  Time to place an order.

Used to you could go to a hardware store, pick out an appliance and it would be loaded onto your truck right then. Today everything has to be ordered from the distribution center, then back ordered.  “It will take four weeks to get the black model or eight days for the stainless steel model.”  After 53 years of marriage, all my kitchen appliances finally match. I can’t start over.  “Order the black model,” I said.

We arrived home with an empty truck bed to a kitchen sink full of dishes.  “What do we do now?” Generation X children asked. “We wash and dry,” I said.   “By hand?” came their astonished question.  “Yes, by hand.  Very versatile, hands, they’re not just for video games and I-phones anymore.”

The children joyfully took to the task.  Ok, I upped their allowance.  I knew we had to wash fast or even money would not keep the teenager motivated. I washed, the eleven-year-old rinsed, the teenager dried.  I grabbed stacks of dishes and tried to keep the conversation going.  After 10 minutes of continuous washing, the teenager was becoming cranky, so was I.  “When are we going to be through?”  “Well, if you wouldn’t get a clean glass every time you wanted a drink there wouldn’t be so many dishes.”  “I’ve dried this same glass five times.”  “No, we do have some glasses that match, it is not the same glass;” then I reached for a stack of dishes to her left.”  “Mama,” this from the Maytag audition-ee “ you are washing the clean dishes over and over.”  It was true.  We were.  I had failed to be very specific to the teenager.  I had said “dry”, but failed to add “and put away” so as she dried and stacked, I moved the stack and washed…again. Dishwashers aren’t the only thing that wears  with age.  We laughed…a lot.

Washing dishes together has not been all bad.   We take turns washing, drying, putting away. We talk. We listen. We got smarter (paper plates, plastic cups).  Work goes faster.  When the new dishwasher arrives, dishes will be quickly loaded, a button pushed, and we will retreat back to video games, I-phones, and TVs. 

I will miss that time we had at the sink.
 I will not miss the dried pasta in the pans, the soapy taste of unrinsed coffee cups, the mystery substance between the fork tines.  Maybe I should have gone with the stainless.  It could have been here in eight days.

1 comment:

fishducky said...

I thought I left a comment on this post last week--where do you suppose it went?