They don’t make things like they used to

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mugs in a dishwasher

“2020 era appliances: Break within two years. 1970s era appliances: ‘I will outlive you and everyone you love. I am eternal. I am time itself.'”

— Internet meme

I knew it would come to this. The signs were all there. Last fall, our nearly new dishwasher suddenly would not pump water. At all. I may not be any kind of mechanical whiz, but a dishwasher that doesn’t move water seems unlikely to actually clean dishes.

My first hint that we were in the throes of planned obsolescence came when two repair people we trust refused to even come look at it. A third did come out, but we paid a pretty penny to have the pump replaced. Not under warranty, of course. It was three years old.

Nonetheless, I wasn’t giving up without a fight. Appliances should last decades, so a few hundred dollars in repairs would be insignificant in the long run. Little did I know that “the long run” would last roughly six months.

Broken

Yesterday, I entered our home after a long day away to be greeted immediately by the sound of … gremlins? Sasquatch? Something growling and chewing loudly in the kitchen? I sprinted in, expecting to find something exciting, like, say, two raccoons fighting it out in our kitchen. Maybe a bear? It was that loud.

Instead, I found something much worse. The dishwasher was churning out that horrific sound. There was no water coming out, which may have been part of the problem. On the other hand, I was grateful there was not a flood.

To reiterate, I am no mechanic. I worked with what I know. I opened the door. It did not stop. I poked buttons. It did not stop. I held down the reset button for the required 3 seconds. It did not stop. What it did do was continue to groan, rattle and shake.

I backed away from it. What sorcery was this? I was home alone with the monster. I stayed nearby, but didn’t turn my back on it. It was full of dirty dishes because, of course, it was. I slowly unloaded them all into sinks full of hot soapy water, the way Grandma, and possibly God, intended.

For the record, one dishwasher full of crusty dishes is three sinks filled overflowing, and some of those are broken because I was scared to take my eyes off of the demonic dishwasher.

A few hours later, Mr. Wonderful came home and disconnected all the power from the machine. His advice was, “if it turns on now, run!”

Maintenance

Truth be told, I’m still side-eyeing that thing. It’s a blessing to have a home. I know this. The endless list of maintenance can be a bit much, though. In addition to the demonic dishwasher, we have a toilet that flushes itself. Day in and day out. It just sits there unattended and quietly flushes. If it wasn’t so wasteful, it might be soothing. Like a really tacky fountain feature perhaps?

Along the vein of “nothing lasts,” our wood burner needs maintenance following a little attack of squirrels. Remember my motto? Nature is not to be trusted. This is why.

Unfortunately, the company that produced our unit went out of business within a decade of our purchase, making even basic parts difficult to find. We are nearly reduced to standing on corners like dealers. “Psstt, buddy, can you spare a gasket for a Coz-E-Burn?”

Old appliances

We used to be cool. According to my dishwasher research (yes, that is a thing I do now), there is an actual trend where people seek out certain models of 1980s era dishwashers that are known to be indestructible. I get it.

Years ago we took a 50-year-old refrigerator out of my great grandmother’s house. It had a chrome lever handle, creamy, white curves and an icebox the size of a half-gallon of ice cream. We stuck it in our barn. It may be still chilling there, literally, for all I know. It was built to last.

Today I am told that most appliances are intended to have a three- to 10-year lifespan, “if you are lucky.” Yes, really. When my barely four-year-old dishwasher died, I was told that sounded “about right.” Funny how that isn’t mentioned in the commercials.

Major appliances cost major money and come with mini warranties. The ink has barely dried on the receipt and I’m already arranging to have it hauled away. To whom do I speak about this injustice? Is it a manager? Do I actually need to speak to a manager?

I feel too young to start saying, “they just don’t make things like they used to.” I thought I had a few more years of being blissfully unaware that things were better “in my day.”

If you need me, I will be busy looking for gently used, ancient, harvest gold and avocado green appliances, and chasing kids off my lawn.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

1 COMMENT

  1. Don’t replace your cabinets! Look nice, cheap paper veneer. And, some appliance are now smaller, kind of like the shrinking container of orange juice.

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