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NOT FOR NUTHIN’ - Those temperamental home appliances

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Psst! I’m going to let you in on a secret. All new home appliances are sentient beings. When they’re in the store, they behave just like old ordinary appliances – docile, performing their task to the best of their ability just so you will be impressed and buy them. But as soon as they arrive in your home, they communicate with your other appliances and form a cohesive underground unit. Their purpose is to shut you down when you least expect it, or when the warranty expires, whichever comes first.

Oh, but we got smart, didn’t we? We saw that they’d wait until the warranty would expire to expire, and so we fought back with extended warranties. Ha ha! Why wait for the extended warranty to expire, the appliances scoffed, when we can just strike at the most inconvenient possible moment? Like when you’re having a huge crowd over for holiday dinner, or when your mother is coming for an extended stay?

My cousin Barbara was recently victimized by an appliance slowdown when her brand-new dishwasher, oven and microwave all stopped working within moments of each other. They broke down one day before she was getting company and my aunt was in from New York. To get food on the table, she had to resort to an electric frying pan, slow cooker and toaster oven. Her neighbors wound up floating her small appliances until the cavalry (repairman) arrived, because A) she had company and B) if deprived of a means of cooking huge meals every day, my aunt, her mother, would have walked back to Florida. Keep in mind, this is the same woman who, gravely ill in the hospital, was still worried about getting food to my house for my New Year’s Eve party.

Anyway, you can usually depend on the smaller appliances – toaster ovens, electric frying pans, crockpots, the like – to stay with you and not break down. They are not in the union, basically because they are relatively inexpensive and easily replaced, but mostly because their size makes them nimble negotiators and they prefer to remain free agents.

So it’s really been the large new appliances that have given my family problems. Over the past five years, you name it, we’ve replaced it. We had to replace the electronic starter on our oven (it went three days before our New Year’s Eve party). We called Dan the repairman; he wouldn’t have the part in time, so we had cold appetizers that year. We lost a light on our Italian import deluxe six-burner range-top hood, which not one store seems to stock (maybe it doesn’t speak the language or is waiting for a work visa, who knows). We lost the holding pins on the dishwasher, which no one seems to stock, either; and most recently, our refrigerator decided to stop making ice. We changed the filter, and we cleaned out the line, then replaced it, but the %^$#@ thing still refuses to drop those handy frozen cubes.

Our dryer, on the other hand, a little older than the kitchen stuff, but still with its wits about it, decided to stop working just in time for a major snowstorm. The band on the drum snapped and it refused to tumble. We had to hang up our soaked clothes on a line in the basement with the fan blowing. Again we called Dan, who took four days to get there to replace the part – he had car trouble.

My cousin let me know this past weekend that although the microwave oven is finally working and the dishwasher is on the mend, the parts for her oven are weeks away. I wonder: can it be that the trucks are sentient, too, and in the slumping economy have joined the appliance union?

Not for nuthin’, but bring back all the old-time appliances; they worked for you without the benefit of a contract.

E-mail “Not for Nuthin’” @ at JoannaD@courierlife.net. All letters become the property of Courier-Life Publications and are subject to publication unless otherwise specified; please include your name, address and daytime telephone number for verification.

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