…On Appliances and Alienation

blue soapbox  There was a small misunderstanding a few weeks ago between me and my laptop.  Part of it, I admit, was my fault.  I somehow misread the message “AOL 9.5 Connected, Signed-On” as “Please spill hot Darjeeling all over the keyboard.”

Anyway, my computer got into a snit, one thing led to another, and then it just stopped speaking to me altogether.  Over a little thing like that.

“Let’s dry it out,” I said to my husband, Mark.  “Let’s waste electricity and keep it running.  Maybe the heat will evaporate the tea.”

“Well—we can try.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if only the “T” key worked?” I giggled nervously.  “Get it?”

I love my computer, and wasn’t the slightest bit excited about deep-sixing it.  I had some minor notes and drafts on there that I hadn’t backed up, but that wasn’t really the issue.  So many things now cost as much to repair as to replace, rendering them essentially disposable.  Bad for the planet, bad for the pocketbook, and enough to send me into a paroxysm of alienation: why is this state of affairs allowed?  Why can’t things be fixed anymore?  And I’m off and running.

The good news was that after drying out the laptop upside down for a few days, all the keys worked.  The bad news: they worked whether I pressed them or not, in a style that can perhaps best be described as stream-of-consciousness.  Not convinced that I could wait the millennia it would take for the computer to produce Shakespeare at random, I finally admitted I had a problem.

“I need a new laptop—ugh,” I said to Mark.  Just the thought of schlepping to an over-stimulating, over-lit electronics store and enduring a sales pitch made me want to jump out of my skin, let alone coming to a decision and shelling out the better part of $1000.

“Hey, what about replacing the keyboard?”

“Seriously?  That might fix it?”

Mark did an online search and ordered the $25 part, which arrived in a few days, was installed in around ten minutes, and made the computer work like new!

Life was good for awhile.

Then one day, my lower oven (I’m fortunate enough to have two) began exhibiting mood swings.  I’m generally not so ambitious as to need both ovens, and have been fairly cheerful about the fact that the upper oven can’t keep a consistent temperature to save its life.  Now the lower one was having hot flashes, too?  I set the thing at 350, and it toggles wildly between 250 and 525?

“We need two new ovens—ugh,” I said to Mark.  Consumer Reports, endless conversations with friends, options and specs to make my eyes glaze over, not to mention making our checkbook groan?  Maybe I should give up cooking.

“Hey, what about replacing the thermometer?”

“Huh?”

“Have you checked that portable thermometer in the oven?”

This time it cost $12.95 at Ace Hardware to “fix” the problem.  Magically, the upper oven got fixed, too (and no, I am not going to start making elaborate meals now).

Of course, the dishwasher is leaking, and the battery on the portable phone can’t seem to stay charged.  Every day, a new opportunity for anomie….

Published in the Piedmont Post October 7, 2009

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One Response to “…On Appliances and Alienation”

  1. Michele Says:

    This article captures your wit perfectly. I laughed and was utterly charmed.

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