The things we use at home have a shelf life, although we always appear shocked when that appliance upon which we’ve relied for so long finally dies. I thought about that not long ago when, after popping the top of my trusty coffeemaker and filling it with water and pressing the brew button, nary a drip or a percolation was there.
For me, the natural reaction was to say, “Oh great! What’s going on with this thing? It’s not that old!” But, then I started turning the pages of my mind and remembered it was a purchase that predated any Y2K concerns.
Since my packrat tendencies extend beyond keeping my childhood baseball cards from the 1960s, I headed to the basement on the laundry room side to a shelf to pluck the coffeemaker that preceded the recently deceased one.
Ahh, I thought, if this one works, and it should, since why would I have kept if it didn’t, I’m in the clear for a while and can kick the old buy-a-new-one can down the road a bit. Setting it up, I was encouraged since the digital clock sprung to life. However, after moving the toggle switch to the brew position and hearing nothing in the way of dripping or percolating, I realized that all I had on my hands was another clock!
So like the first one, this one was also set aside for disposal, and I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to head for Kohl’s or Walmart for a new unit.
Just when I was about to grab the car keys, I had a distant memory, that of another coffeemaker that used to be kept downstairs under the bar that, back when the proper pronoun for the house was we, was used once a year on Christmas Day back when my daughters were in grade school. You see, the finished basement was where the family tree was put up each season once upon a Yuletide time. We’re talking easily over three decades ago. What would be the odds of that still being there?
I went down in the basement, opened the cabinet door and, lo and behold, it was still there! I took it upstairs, cleaned it off, filled it and flipped the toggle switch to brew with little confidence, given my morning experience thus far. Amazingly, I heard percolation, and that old unit without a clock brewed its first pot of coffee since Reagan was in office!
Feeling pretty good about my find, I sat down with my cup of Joe and began opening the mail, beginning with the envelope from our local cable company. Anytime I open this monthly envelope, I do so with a certain degree of loathing, anticipating an increase or some new charges for either the TV or Internet to which we all are subjected on occasion.
Actually, I was still pretty sore about that whole going-all-digital thing just a few months ago, where I had to get boxes for two of the three sets in the house, both of which will inflate the bill within a year. In addition, I had to pay a truck charge for a tech to install them when there were issues with my installation attempts that couldn’t be resolved over the phone. Nothing like paying an extra 50 bucks to have something installed you don’t even want in the first place!
Sure enough, when I opened the letter, I incredulously stared at a $44 monthly rate increase. Of course I called the 800 number for an explanation, and, of course, I heard a lot of blather about some special promotion I had that had expired. I released my entire ordnance of righteous indignation over an increase of that magnitude but short of take an entire tier of channels away, I was told nothing could be done since the company won’t allow consumers just to pay for the channels they watch. To my way of thinking, that would be like, say, Chief deciding that when we turn down an aisle while shopping, we have to take one of everything!
I really don’t think there’s a service for which we pay that is more aggravating than cable. Services such as gas, electric and water we understand, given their essential nature. However, when it comes to cable, we realize it’s just entertainment. Surely we could pretty much live without about all of what’s in these tiers and pick up a book more often or do something else far more worthwhile, right?
In a perfect world, with a cooperative cable company, we could just create our own tier with a few channels and just pay for those, but, of course, putting the customer first will never be an option, right?
When it comes to effectively allocating our resources, it seems while we’ll win the occasional small financial battles when we may find an extra working coffeemaker, we’re probably destined to lose the war when we start going through the mail.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.