Guest op-ed: I am never alone
Somedays it feels like everybody wants something. It’s one thing if it’s people asking me to do stuff, or even Siri insisting that I want to turn right, but now even my so called “inanimate” appliances have personalities that I have to cope with. Like humans, some are easier to deal with than others.
At our house, the dryer is a happy extrovert, simply delighted to be drying our clothes. He plays a happy little cadence when we push his buttons and then bursts into songs of joy when he is finished. He does tend to go on a bit, but he’s so happy we don’t mind. Unfortunately, his sister the washer is a joyless pessimist. There are no happy sounds when we turn her dials, and as she slowly gets going and then very slowly goes through the washing cycles, one is reminded of a prisoner consigned to 10 years of hard labor. When she’s finally finished, she emits a dispirited beep as if to say, “I’m finished. Can I rest now or is there still more you want me to do?”
The oven is a no-nonsense military kind of character. He isn’t going to coddle us with classified information like the temperature while he’s pre-heating. When he gets to the correct temperature, he gives a single beep and he expects us to be around to hear it. None of this leaving the kitchen to go to the bathroom nonsense! We can do that on our own time! Put the food in! “Sir, yes sir!” When the time is up, we get one beep and one beep only.
My daughter, Catherine lives with a different set of characters, as I found out when I went to her house to cook Thanksgiving dinner. She gave me an in-depth tour of the kitchen and introduced me to her appliances.
Her kitchen is run by Wesley, the dishwasher. Wesley is a diva and is a strictly solo act who will not tolerate other appliances running during his performance. If you dare to try it, he will blow the fuses and shut everything down. Also, it’s best not to start his show just before bedtime because when he is done with the dishes, he will loudly announce that he is done and will continue to announce this, all night long if necessary, until he gets his due acknowledgement.
The fridge is a complainer who makes noises when she is left open. At first, I thought this was a useful feature, but as I quickly found out, this particular fridge starts objecting very quickly about her open status. Unfortunately for both me and the fridge, I was often hauling large amounts of stuff out, or trying to wedge large amounts of stuff in, so she was frequently left open longer than she thought she should be. I was reminded of a teenager demanding privacy.
“Shut the door. I said, shut the DOOR!”
“Just a min…”
“SHUT THE DOOR!!”
Also, the ice-maker is not going to just continually make ice without receiving massages between workouts.
As we talked, the room suddenly went dark.
“Sorry,” I said. “What did I touch?”
“Nothing,” Catherine said, “It isn’t you. The light is possessed and likes to turn on and off randomly.”
“Oh, OK. Where did you say the potato peeler was?”
Now that I think about it, I probably should have asked some follow-up questions about that light. But since my office is also possessed, it seemed normal enough behavior to me.
Still, I’m thankful for all of the electronic marvels that usually make my life easier despite their oddities. Without them, I’d be back to churning my own butter, no doubt with a churn that only works while facing east.
Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.