And now … the latest dispatch from the land of divided attention, a rather crowded place filled with twenty-four-hour news cycles and two-minute reports from the trenches in Ukraine.
I need a break from world events, so please excuse me if I leave the latest headlines and travel to the mundane.
First, welcome back, E-Trade Baby! We’ve missed you and your clever remarks. It doesn’t matter that by now your original self is probably in college and sporting a beard. The new you is so much cuter than that scary emu and that annoying harborside chant, “Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, Liberty!”
Here’s the non sequitor.
Recently my spouse and I re-entered the world of appliance shopping. The realities of age of our refrigerator, washer, and dryer spurred us to replace them in advance of being told their parts could no longer be sourced. As it turned out, we had to wait a bit for their deliveries as they were links in the troubled supply chain situation.
It’s been more than a few minutes since we’ve looked at new appliances with the intention of purchasing them. Reading labels and opening doors quickly informed us that we’d landed in vaguely familiar territory, but we no longer spoke the language. These new appliances had features we’d probably never use. In fact, we’d probably forget about their existence until some future mishap sent us to the owner’s manual. This has been my experience with my last two cars and cell phones.
The new fridge’s technology has been the least complicated to activate. Aware of the steep learning curve inherent in new-fangled appliances, we bought an attractive but basic model. We didn’t need to stand in front of the fridge and look through a translucent screen to see its contents. We didn’t need pyramid-shaped ice cubes. We didn’t want to control the fridge’s functions via our smartphones. God forbid one of us loses her phone, it’s picked up by a smart aleck who knows what s/he is doing, and consequently we’re left wondering why all of our food is now at room temperature. Think about that, dear readers!
Bless his heart, one of the delivery guys set the digital temperature controls for the freezer and fridge. Assuring us that doing so was easy, he tapped invisible indentations near the top of the appliance. Cool! Or cold as the case may be.
The freezer, which is below the fridge, has resisted my organization strategies. My first step was to convince my true love that we didn’t need ten first-aid ice packs at our beck and call for gardening-induced injuries. Fewer of these packs would give us more room to store food. (Alas, Spring is on the way, so that might have been a faulty decision.) Even though it made sense to put bigger items on the bottom of the freezer drawer and smaller, flatter ones on top, there was something about stacking frozen fish filets atop a gallon of ice cream that bothered me. I’ve tried to adjust my thinking. Mostly, I’ve trained myself to stop visualizing a strawberry and cream infused flounder casserole. I’ll know I’m fully at peace with the fridge the day the cringe inducing “you’ve-had-the-refrigerator-door-open-for-more-than-two-minutes-YOU-ENERGY-HOG” alarm no longer sends me in a frenzied search for my phone, the microwave’s timer, the TV, and the automatic coffee maker. I’ll remember it’s the fridge’s warning system, not my tinnitus. All I need to do to stop the ringing is close its doors.
The technology involved with the washing machine and dryer is…nothing short of miraculous. The only chore we have to do is place the laundry inside the washer, pour a bit of detergent into a pull-out tray, close the lid, and push the first of two buttons. That’s when the magic begins. The washer senses the size of the load and invites us to select how we want the load washed (quickly, delicately, with a lot of muscle…) After making that one choice, our labor is done. Sensing how many garments are to be cleaned, the washer calculates…uh senses the density of load, the quantity of water that’s necessary, and the water’s appropriate temperature.
That’s it. Relieved of the task of pushing more than one button, I stand there in wonderment.
“No more decisions!” I proclaim as furiously as Joan Crawford screeched, “No wire hangers!”
The first few times I loaded laundry into the new machine I peered through its translucent, smokey-gray lid and watched the agitator-less bin spin first to the left, then to the right. I tried to observe the entire operation before I realized the steam from the sensed hot water made it impossible to see every detail of the cycles. I also questioned the state of my mental health if I were willing to watch a washer do its job from start to finish.
The new dryer is the washer’s sibling. It senses how wet or damp the clothes are and then decides how long it will take to dry them. When it’s finished drying the items, it emits a buzzer. If the clothes aren’t removed after five minutes, the dryer reactivates itself. It didn’t take long for us to accept that our new washer and dryer have more sense than we do.
I must confess that I love our new contraptions. More than that, I’m humbly thankful that we’ve had the means to replace the old appliances, the mental acuity to read and understand the owners’ manuals and warranty information, and most of all… the good health and sense of humor with which we use each one.
Stay well, my friends. Laugh whenever you can. Smile at strangers. Keep your food cold and your laundry washed and dried.
©Renée Bess 2022
Renée Bess is a published novelist, poet, and essayist. For information about her books, please visit her website. http://www.reneebess.com