Friday, December 22, 2006

Appliance Commandments

I have a friend who has a blender that’s facing execution. It doesn’t know it yet. She says she has to drop frozen fruit or ice in one piece at a time when making a smoothie or the blades jam, that it splatters everywhere when it’s turned on, and that the whole appliance (with lid on) won’t fit on the counter under her cabinets. To be fair to the blender, I don’t think any blender made for the home market will do what she wants it to do—namely, merrily whiz everything in it to a fare-the-well when flipped on, with all the ingredients having been put in while the thing was turned off. I think only commercial blenders (costing multiple hundreds of dollars) will do that. I think you’re always going to have to feed frozen stuff in a little at a time. However, this won’t save the current blender from outright expulsion, especially since it compounds its errors by having been given to her by her Very Annoying Mother-in-Law.

My friend’s blender battle makes me think of the appliances we currently have (some of them actually belonging to us, some of them—thank god—a permanent part of this rental house, so they will be staying here when we move). These appliances have broken several Appliance Commandments, and will not be joining us in our new home next year. Like my friend’s blender, they don’t know it yet. I’m just going to let them go blissfully along, annoying the crap out of me, and then mercilessly dump them. I will then chortle with glee, and direct them to make friends with a PC somewhere so they can read this catalog of their sins. After that I will phone the first psychologist listed in the phone book and make an appointment, so I can discuss my delusions regarding the anthropomorphic characteristics of appliances.

Toaster Oven
No toaster oven shall give the impression it is working when it is not. Our toaster oven has three knobs that control the various functions: Toast/Bake/Etc., Temperature, and Time. To toast, you set the first knob to Toast, the second to Broil (or maximum or whatever it’s called), and the third one to the amount of time you want the thing to run. The third knob then ticks away the time, and dings when it’s done. If, however, your husband has unplugged the toaster oven for some inexplicable reason, the Time knob will still tick away as though everything was toasting as expected, when in fact it is not. Do I even need to describe how annoying this is? Suffice to say our next toaster oven will have no such shortcoming.

This microwave has so many deficiencies that I really want to drop it off of a five story tower today. However, I don’t have the luxury of doing so, because that would mean having to go buy another one and that’s not in our budget right now. Instead I’ll relieve my feelings by whining about how crummy it is.

No microwave shall run a “cooling fan” after having only been used for thirty seconds. In fact, no microwave shall run a cooling fan, period. It’s a microwave—the whole idea is that they don’t generate heat as they run, and I can’t believe the motor gets that hot in just a few minutes. Why does it need a cooling fan? Especially one that runs so loudly that it practically ensures marital discord as my husband and I shout back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, and the one of us in the kitchen can’t hear a damned thing the other one is saying because the stupid microwave fan is whirring along like the reversers on the engine of a Boeing 757.

The plastic covering on the buttons of a microwave shall last more than six months. Those buttons have a sort of sheet of plastic over them (pretty redundant to me, since the buttons themselves are really just sheets of plastic over the sensors) that has split and started to curl back. I find this annoying for at least two reasons—first of all, the microwave is barely a year old, so it should have held up better; and second of all, every time I press the Stop/Reset button, it pricks my finger. Oh it doesn’t draw blood or anything, but it still kind of hurts.

No microwave shall randomly spark. Yes, our microwave randomly sparks as the built in turn table spins around. I’d be more worried about this, but I’m hoping that what’s happening is that this cheap piece of garbage is slowly self-destructing, and in another ten months or so it will just disintegrate into a little pile of dust. What’s probably happening is that my food, and me as I stand in front of it, are slowly being poisoned by radioactive waves. That’s my luck for you. I’ll be a twitching mass of radioactive goo on the floor and the microwave will be sitting on the counter, its cooling fan buzzing happily away. My husband will be in the living room shouting to me to ask if I’ve emptied the dishwasher and getting progressively more pissed off as he thinks I can’t hear him because of the microwave fan.

This is one of those appliances that won’t be joining us when we move on, so I’m a little more forgiving of its shortcomings because I know I won’t have to put up with them for much longer. However, no oven shall take 25 minutes to heat up. With this oven you have to plan an hour in advance because the preheating takes so long that it can be a significant part of food preparation. I’ve never had an oven that took longer than about 15 minutes to preheat.

Really my complaint about this refrigerator is my complaint about any stacked unit. The freezer is on top, the refrigerator is on the bottom, and in order to see the stuff in the back of the fridge, you have to bend over and touch your toes. What’s in the freezer, the part of the refrigerator we use least (or perhaps more accurately, spend less time hunting through for various items) is plainly visible and easily accessible. I suppose the commandment this refrigerator is breaking is, no refrigerator shall be poorly designed. Most of the refrigerators sold on planet Earth are, though, so it’s hard to do much more than hate this one and count the minutes until I can be away from it forever.

Technically the only commandment my mixer has broken is, no appliance shall break in a way that makes it frustrating to use, but does not justify full replacement. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (not the one with the crank that allows you do to an ice bath—just the tip-up one). The Lock/Unlock lever is broken. It doesn’t stay in the Unlock position, but drifts back to the Lock position just enough to prevent me from flipping the beaters up. I actually have to hold the lever back while I use my other hand to lift the motor and beater unit. What’s irritating about this is that it’s not really enough of a problem to justify getting rid of the mixer and upgrading, nor is it really worth finding someplace to have it fixed, taking it there, and paying for the repair (who do you get to fix a mixer these days, anyway?). Unfortunately, until I (or someone else) burns out the motor, drops it in a sinkful of water, or otherwise renders this mixer unusable, I’m stuck with it. I can’t bring myself to get rid of an otherwise perfectly useful mixer over a minor issue like this one. It does bug me, though.

The rest of my appliances manage to function with sufficient efficiency to avoid being replaced. It’s a good thing, too, because when it comes to the dutiful behavior of appliances, I can really be merciless. One false step, and you’re out.

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