Thought for Thursday: Durable Goods

My toaster oven broke about a month ago.

One mid-afternoon on a Saturday about a month ago, I popped a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster with the intention of making a chicken dinner sandwich for my lunch.  When the “your toast is ready” indicator went off,  I opened the door to find that only half the bread was toasted.  That happens sometimes – someone will flip the dial to “broil” and forget to switch it back – but that was not the case here.  Nope; only half the toaster is toasting anymore.

We still haven’t replaced it (due in equal parts to Mr. Chili’s desire to research and my need for the fucking thing to not TICK as it’s making toast; I am made uneasy by ticking toasters), but the broken toaster has got me thinking; is it just me, or are the things we used to think of as sturdy, dependable fixtures in our everyday lives becoming less and less so as we go forward?  Is it reasonable to have to buy a new toaster every couple of years?  What about coffee pots?  Microwave ovens?  Vacuum cleaners?  I understand that the term “durable goods” applies to things like refrigerators and washing machines (both of which are going on nearly 20 years in the Chili household…shhhhh!  Don’t jinx them!), but it seems to me that there are a number of other things that should last a whole lot longer than they do, but they don’t.

All of this has brought me back to my commitment to shop locally and, wherever possible, to buy handcrafted items for the holidays this year.  I know that I’ll hit Amazon for a couple of DVDs for my family and friends, but my plan is for the bulk of my holiday purchases to be hand- and well made, and that the money I pay for them stays firmly within my community.  I can’t get a locally-made toaster, however, so as much as I may want to stop my money from going to Chinese shops that make cheap goods (both in terms of price and quality), I am going to have to suck it up and take what I can get.

All I can say, though, is that the damned thing had better not TICK….

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7 Comments

Filed under concerns, critical thinking, frustrations, Home and Family, ideas and opinions, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, politics, strange but true, technical difficulties, WTF?!

7 responses to “Thought for Thursday: Durable Goods

  1. Improbable Joe

    This sort of thing always reminds me of the Sam Vimes Law of Economic Injustice…

  2. JRH

    About 5 or 6 years ago, my Mom made me get rid of the toaster that was gifted to me (by a poor college student) when I moved out of your house (in what 1995?). It still worked, but looked like a 10 year old toaster. It’s replacement? Nowhere near as good and starting to malfunction. Maybe Mr. C would like to share his research?

  3. Suzanne

    Is there a place locally where you can purchase your DVDs? Maybe your locally owned bookstore could even order the DVDs — it’s worth asking. And even a “brick-and-mortar” chain store brings jobs and money to your neighborhood (rent on the space, at any rate). Toaster ovens and other small appliances can also be purchased locally — State Street Discount may sell them, or even Target. I often want to be taken in by the lure of Amazon, but those discounts come at a cost.

    I agree that small appliances should have as much of a chance to be “durable goods” as anything larger. I want a vacuum cleaner that lasts for at least 10 years, preferably more. And we finally stopped buying the $30 black and Decker toaster ovens when we realized that although they were simple and did exactly what we wanted them to, they had a shelf life less than a standard otc bottle of ibuprofen (approximately 2 years).

  4. Following up on Suzanne’s thoughts, I would suggest the Bull Moose a couple of towns over from you, Mrs. C., for your DVDs.

  5. I’ve noticed that toaster ovens, and toasters (although I haven’t seen or used one of the latter in years), have various settings, but not a smooth curve of them. Toast is either not toasted enough, or too much. Fortunately, I don’t eat that much toast. I really prefer my sandwiches to be on soft bread*, and not to distribute as many crumbs as toasted bread does (don’t argue with me, toast is inherently more crumbly).

    As for buying locally, I know of nothing made near me that isn’t either a bad work of art, or a bad bit of crafting. Okay, “bad” is a value judgment. Let’s just say my house is chock-a-block with arty-crafty stuff, and I really just don’t need more such stuff around. In fact, I’d like to have less of it.

    *I don’t like butter on my sandwich bread, either. It’s just gross when people put butter (or margarine) on a meaty sandwich. I also don’t like lettuce on a sandwich. Lettuce is okay in a salad (if there are several other tasty ingredients to go with it), but, basically, it pretty much isn’t actual food. A proper sandwich consists of something meaty-like, some cheesy stuff, and some gooey stuff (like mayo or mustard). Pickles are okay too. Tomatoes (or is it tomatos?) are just to drippy when you bite into them (and none of them have any taste anymore anyway.

    Just think of the electricity/energy savings if you never toast bread.

  6. I don’t think we have any of the appliances from when we got married, just over 10 years ago now. The big ones, that’s partly because we’ve moved. But the little ones? We’re on like our 5th (or more) blender, at least our second coffeemaker, at least our 4th? microwave …

    It’s really frustrating that nothing’s built to last anymore.

  7. Laurie B

    It probably means that we haven’t vaccumed enough but our Miehle vaccum cleaner has been a workhorse for at least ten years. Probably not made in America though.

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