My household appliances have horned in on the spirit-of-the-end-of-year-season action by taking the moment to collectively give up the ghost. Within a relatively short period of time my mishmash of second and third-hand-me-downs all thought to declare that it was ‘Out with the old!’, forcing me to join in a chorus of ‘In with the new!’
First it was the micro-stereo that I inherited from my sister about 15 years ago. In truth the CD player on that gave up many years ago (twice, even, since I had it repaired once), but the DVR had been doing a nice job on that score, along with the CD-ROM drive of my computer. But then the radio died too, and while I’m not a radio listener at all, I like the thought that one day I could grow up to become a Radio National listener, and as an old Brownie and Girl Guide, I always like to be prepared for any eventuality.
The limited options for playing CDs diminished even further when I started having difficulties with my DVR (neither second-hand nor inherited, I might point out). First it became rather recalcitrant in its recording duties, leading to many disappointing moments of randomly pixelated, frozen and unwatchable television programmes. (I suspect I demanded too much of it. It rarely had a day off from recording.) It still played purchased DVDs though, and, mercifully, CDs as well. But then it stopped playing CDs and I had no option but to play them on the computer which is in another room, away from where I usually like to listen to music. In order to hear the audio from the preferred room, I had to turn it up to a level that I think was a bit too loud for the neighbours in the adjacent rooms. Not that they said anything, but playing loud and, therefore, disturbing music is not something I want to make a habit of. Some people will do crazy things when subjected to the tortuous thump-thump-thump of a repetitive bass at 3am.
The next appliance on the Last Hurrah Tour™ was the microwave. It would count as an heirloom if it had been passed on within a family structure, but my sister—not the one who gave me the stereo—was gifted it by a couple she used to nanny for, just before she got married eleven years ago. I’m not sure how old it was when F first got it, but it’s large in the way that early models of computers and mobile phones were large when they were first invented. And it has a gorgeous, faux wood veneer that they just don’t make now in this era of stainless steel. Technically this appliance still works, if you don’t count the fact that the turntable no longer turns while it’s in operation, resulting in overcooked patches in your re-heated food, unless you open the door every 30 seconds to reposition the plate or container. I don’t even want to think about radiation leakage. My brother-in-law, who co-gifted the microwave to me, says that just because a microwave is old doesn’t mean it leaks, which is quite different to the advice I received while chatting with the administrative staff at work.
The award for the most dramatic exit by an ailing appliance goes to the vacuum cleaner. It was overwhelmed mid-performance when I was vacuuming my floor free of the hair that I seem to moult relentlessly. I knew the burning smell and wheezing noise weren’t on account of any strenuous effort on my part. I turned it off straight away and haven’t been game enough to switch it back on. I bought it from a friend, who bought it from his parents, for the princely sum of $50, and I tend to think that if I had been a more avid cleaner, it would have expired long before now, so I guess I’m grateful that it lasted as long as it did.
Since Christmas, I have breathlessly transferred a genuinely princely sum (for me) from my carefully accrued savings account to my spending account, and acquired the first new vacuum cleaner I’ve ever bought in my life. I feel rather arrested in my development that I can say the same thing about a microwave oven and a (mini-) stereo too. I’m sure most people purchase these everyday items sometime in their mid-twenties, don’t they?
Now, of course, I have the problem of what to do with the old appliances. On the new stereo speakers there’s a diagram of a Wheelie bin in a circle with a cross through it, suggesting that it might not be a good idea to discard the old ones in that way either. Whatever happened to the kerbside large rubbish collection? If I recall properly, my neighbourhood hasn’t had one of those collections in quite a few years. How can somebody who lives in the inner city, who doesn’t have a car, get rid of old appliances? I’ll ring the council. Unless of course there are any old appliance collectors out there who would like to come and take the microwave off my hands for their collections?