Archive | August, 2012

Durable Goods – not!

16 Aug

So we recently reclaimed our house after renting it out for a year to total strangers.  I hired an agent to manage it so I wouldn’t have to worry about collecting rent or dealing with broken things. I think dealing with all that would have been easier than dealing with my agent, but that is another story.  Upon re-entry, we found that the dishwasher, microwave, and fridge were either completely broken or sufficiently lacking peak performance and warranted replacement.  I guess that is not completely unreasonable since they were all purchased when the house was built eleven years ago.

It wasn’t too long after that tremendous outlay of 2001, that I heard an interesting story on NPR.  A guy had calculated a way to measure his own longevity in terms of durable goods, the things that are supposed to be built to last.  He explained why he was not going to include cars because he often just got bored with a car long before it was worn out, so that didn’t count.  He did count washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators, though. He concluded that since his current fridge had lasted 25 years, and he was over fifty, it was safe to say, he most likely had one-point-five or two fridges left in his life.  He thought it was something to celebrate.  I have to agree.

Anyway, I thought about this when Steve and I went to Sears and bought round two.  It wasn’t until we got home and unpacked the dishwasher that I got really worried.  See in the “Longevity in Durable Goods” world, low numbers are good.  It means you don’t waste what precious little time you might actually have left with stupid and mundane things like shopping for, waiting on the delivery and installation of the durable goods.  They are built to last, thus the name. It’s the thing in your life you are supposed to take completely for granted. Durable goods are supposed to be sturdy and stand up to what life throws at them without complaining.  They are supposed to take a licking and keep on ticking – to steal a phrase.  My first clue that things were not all hunky dory was the clip that keeps the door securely shut was so flimsy, we were convinced it was just part of the packaging meant to keep the door from rattling around during shipment.  Then I realized that my new dishwasher was made completely of plastic inside and out. 100% poly something or other.  I could actually alter the shape of the drum by pressing on it. The whole thing is made with maybe a total of one pound of metal parts. My first thought was, “Oh dear, I am going to be buying one of these suckers every four years.”  That means I might have up to 10 more dishwashers to live through, and that is utterly depressing.

Re-entry and culture shock

11 Aug

Really, there is simply too much to explain.  I’ve moved back from London to Mebane, NC, moved two kids in and out of college housing, reassembled a menagerie of pets, taken possession of my battered house that sports a “For Sale” sign in the front yard, started a new job, and both picked up and dropped off my husband at RDU for a two week reunion that ended yesterday.  I am exhausted, overwhelmed, and too confused to write the post I want to write.  The quips often come to me late at night after I am in bed.  Lying in the dark, I draft brilliant analogies about the Olympics and global warming and the Tea Party. Unfortunately, they elude me at the keyboard. I am too disorganized to even check Facebook regularly so I am sure I have offended people by not responding to important announcements. Just know I am here – taking it all in, and shaking my head regularly. Really America?  Why in the world did anyone even want to stay here in this heat and humidity – especially before A/C?

I will make just one short remark.  The one thing I hate more than I can explain is driving a car for mundane reasons.  My husband Steve sympathized with me while he was here.  He explained, driving should be fun, something done for excitement and for sport.    If not, people should at least obey simple driving rules like “Keep right except to pass.”  Why is that so difficult and so infuriating?  I honestly believe that simply getting around from point A to point B should require us to tax ourselves physically beyond mashing (yes, I said “mashing”) the gas pedal  but without risking our lives.  The latter is impossible in my rural NC community. So I am a bit out out of sorts with all the driving.  I miss walking to a destination and pretty much loathe the idea of walking for the sake of walking.  That’s about allI can muster right now. I hope to deliver deeper thoughts later.