Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Five 8/25/06 - Funky Appliances

aka Five Funky Appliances I Have Lived With

I think all of us wind up with bits of machinery in our houses that don't do what we want them to do, don't work as advertised, or which surprise us with their mechanical quirks. Here are my most memorable five.

1. NASA's Toaster: When I was a kid, we had a toaster that worked just fine until one day it started launching toast around the kitchen. I don't know how or why, but the spring seemed overwound, and it would shoot toast a good two feet up in the air, invariably with some kind of spin on it. If we wanted toast for breakfast, we had to stand on alert as it crisped up the bread, ready to lunge left or right to catch our toast before it hit the floor. We tried moving it farther back on the counter, but this was in the good old days when toasters emitted serious heat, and I think it was scorching the underside of the cabinet. Anyway, it toasted just fine -- no burning, no undercooking, so we just put up with the the toast launches until it finally gave out several years later.

2. Beano Baby Coffee Maker: Our first coffeemaker as a married couple was flatulent. It would get off to a rip snorting, perking good start but always ended with about five minutes of wet, nasty sounding mechanical farts. And woe betide us if we interrupted it before it was finished farting because those really were wet farts and it would spit scalding hot water at anyone foolish enough to try to grab a cup of coffee before it decided it was done!

3. Cha-cha's Cheap Vac: I am probably responsible for the fact that one of my early vacuum cleaners decided to set up a Latin rhythm every time I used it. It started off OK, noisy, but normal. Then some manufacturer came out with those scented foam beads that were supposed to make your room smell fresh and lovely, so I was bacon-brained enough to use them. I never got all of them out of the machine. Somewhere in the works, a tiny mysterious pouch evolved and kept the beads from being sucked into the bag, so that every time I'd start up the vacuum cleaner, it would suck normally for a couple of minutes and then, cha-cha-cha, click, clickety, click, cha-cha would issue from it. It would cha-cha for the remainder of the time I used it, and when I turned it off, it would give a big band finale of cha-clickety-cha-clickety-cha-cha-cha, whoosh. Sometimes I just danced to it. Gotta get some fun out of chores somehow!

4. Idontwanna Blender: I purchased my first blender about 15 years ago. It was a name brand, fairly expensive small appliance, and I got it at a reputable store. I thought it was great, all chromed up, lots of intriguing buttons, but I didn't reckon on it being tempermental. Then I tried using it. It would whip eggs with no problem, but anything denser was hit or miss. I'd put milkshake stuff in it, push a button and it would make "I'm blending" noises, but nothing would happen. I tried it with just milk first and that worked. If I added so much as a tablespoonful of ice cream, it quit. It sulked. It moped. It refused. I could mash cooked pumpkin in it, but not cooked apples. I have no idea why it developed aversions to various substances. I took it back to the store, they sent me to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer sent it back to me saying they'd examined it and nothing was wrong. I finally just used it for whipping eggs. Most expensive eggbeater I ever bought. I think my husband killed it trying to shave ice. Maybe he just pitched it out of frustration.

5. The Roman Vomitorium Dishwasher: When we moved into our current house, the existing dishwasher was on its last legs. We got about two years' worth of use out of it and then it didn't even pretend to wash any more. It was out of warranty and for good reason. I sent my husband out on a quest to buy a new dishwasher that was a) easy to service, b) cleaned the damned dishes, c) not heinously expensive, and d) from a reputable maker likely to remain in business until the warranty expired. He scored on all counts -- from Sears, all stainless steel, all replaceable racks, nice spray arms. It washed the damned dishes. It looked like a winner.

For about a year. Then, for no particular reason, it began spewing gray and beige grit onto the dishes. We hosed it out, ran dishwasher cleaner through it, ran a little bleach through it, took out the racks and pulled out the screen and cleaned that. It spewed more grit. We called for service. The service man did everything we had done and pronounced it fine. It spewed more grit. The service guy blamed our plumbing. We called the plumber. He said it wasn't the plumbing, that there was something wrong with the dishwasher. We ran a week's worth of empty loads, wiped the grit from the walls inside the dishwasher until it ran clean and tried again. It vomited washwater onto the kitchen floor. The seal had come loose. We fixed the seal and it drooled washwater onto the floor. We fixed the seal some more, and it spewed grit.

We decided we could live with grit but not drooling and vomiting, so we still wash our dishes in it and keep a close eye on the seal. We get maybe three out of five loads grit-free per week, and it hasn't barfed water for a month or so. Every six months we need to put a new seal in it because it starts dribbling again, and my husband swears he'll never get another one once the kids are grown and gone. I can't say as I blame him.

What are your quirky appliance stories? I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joan, you'll want to delete the spam in the "Trigger Is Not Just A Horse" entry.