I Refuse To Take Orders From My Microwave!


I wrote this piece for my other blog about a year ago - it found its way, in a manner of speaking, into the Edison Strip from last Sunday.

"Over the course of the last five years or so we have had what could best be described as an era of appliance transition. Many of the appliances or gadgets that we bought when we were first married have started to give up the ghost. Which isn't really too surprising when you know that my husband and I are about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Because of our habit of being underpaid, we tend to hang on to our gadgets until they truly, truly can no longer function or be repaired. And because we're frugal (read cheap) we get those babies repaired time and time again.

Aggravatingly, the era of the repairable appliance seems to have packed up and left to be replaced by planned obsolescence. 

Which is annoying in and of itself, but adding insult to injury is the rise of the "talking gadget". 

Thankfully, I don't really mean talking because my gadgets don't talk out loud. 

Instead, they converse with me via little digital messages, most frequently in red or white LED display tones.

I think the first was the DVD player. And it seemed harmless enough. Quite businesslike, actually - "Power On" and "Power Off". And informational, "Loading, No Disk". Stuff like that.

Next came the DVR with  a little personality thrown in - "Hello" and "Goodbye" when turned on and off. This filled me with pangs of guilt as I would shut it down.  The "goodbye" seemed a little forlorn - like the mother who sighs "you never call me anymore".

But this new guy - the microwave......

Him I'm already sick of.

Who does he think he is bossing me around all day? With messages like, "Close Door", and "Press Start!". And the manufacturers have thrown in a little feature designed for your convenience that is simply irritating. So that you won't leave your just zapped cup of coffee in there for the next two days, the oven now sends you warning beeps every 60 seconds after it finishes its heating cycle. And aggressively flashes "Done. Remove Food! Done. Remove Food! Done. Remove Food!" until you get your keister over there to open the door.

It's had a terrible effect on John. Hardly a day goes by that I don't come downstairs to find him actually arguing with the thing like a deranged John Cleese character from Monty Python.

And don't get me started on the GPS system for my car. I finally had to mute the thing. You can only spend so much time sitting alone in your car arguing with your windshield before you start getting funny looks. I don't care how charming that Australian guy's voice is supposed to be. My father in law has his set to the woman's voice and has taken to referring to her as "bitching Betty". He seems to like the company - says she keeps him awake.

I don't know how far this trend will take us - when my vacuum cleaner starts talking to me like C3PO from Star Wars, I think I may just have to clock out and go live in the mountains with a fishing pole and a cabin with a fireplace.

And no chipper, helpful know-it-all appliances.

I may be cold and hungry but I'll be damned if I'll be bossed around by a toaster oven with delusions of grandeur."