Tag Archives: old appliances

Shock Therapy

Et tu, Waste King? I thought you were the one appliance in the house I could count on not to betray me. You are, after all, the only one that was purchased after the Eisenhower era.

But there I was tonight, washing dishes. I reached out to flick on the garbage disposal, then screamed dramatically–how else can you scream?–when I realized I was being shocked. Quickly whipping my hand back, I shook it hard to lessen the numbing buzz that was traveling up my arm.

“What happened?” asked Mike from the dining room table. He was surrounded by a laptop, papers and files. He’s the treasurer of MJ’s preschool now. My little Bartelby the Scrivener. Minus the tall hat.

“I think I just got shocked by the garbage disposal!”

He didn’t look up from his Quickbooks. “Ouch.”

Ouch? That’s it?”

Now he looked up. And stared at me blankly.

“Aren’t you surprised?”

“Not particularly,” he said calmly.


“I don’t know,” he said, leaning back. Placing his palms on the table: “Were your hands wet?”

I looked down at them. “Yes.”

“Was the switch?”

Oh. Yes. “So that’s, like, normal?” I asked, rubbing my arm gingerly.

“I’m not sure it’s normal. But you probably completed the circuit with all that water.”

Great. I’m an eighth-grade science experiment. “Am I going to have nerve damage?

He smiled as he turned back to his screen. “Not likely. An AC current is surprisingly weak. I once got shocked by a fallen wire while standing in a rain puddle. My friend had to knock me out of there with a stick. But I was fine.”

I stared at him, agape. “A stick? Why?”

“I was immobilized.”

My eyes widened further. “That’s–a terrible story.”

“It was no big deal.”

“You’re crazy.”

He shrugged.

Finishing the last few dishes, I dried my hands thoroughly and walked out of the kitchen. My last words to Mike before I went?

“I will never touch that thing again.”

Scraping the dishes is no big deal. Being a human Tesla coil? I’ll leave it to my more sanguine husband. And remember to keep a stick handy.


Rack to the Future

I was standing in the kitchen this morning loading my dishwasher when it came to me. Like a bolt of lightning. A visitation from cherubim. An Annunciation.

“You have the oldest working dishwasher in the world.”

Just like that. The voice resounded and shook, a subterranean train pulling into the crumbling, elevated station of my brain. As I thought it, moreover, I knew that–unlike so many other of my fantastical and hyperbolic thoughts–it was true. The voice was speaking the Gospel. Of appliances, at any rate. I had finally, finally excelled at something.

We have the oldest working dishwasher. In. The. World.


I know. I’ve remarked upon our old appliances before. But I don’t think I really stopped to acknowledge the utterly antediluvian state  of this one in particular.

It’s made by Gaffers and Sattler. Notice there’s no link to their website. That’s because they don’t exist anymore. And they didn’t go out of business a year ago, folks. Try forty-three. Forty-three years ago. Or that’s when, according to this quite interesting and totally random website, they were subsumed by Magic Chef. (Who was acquired by Maytag in 1986). So this dishwasher is at least 43 years old. But it could be more. Much more. I’m guessing, by the graphics in its owners manual, (which, thanks to the OCD of the previous owner of this house, we still have), that it came out in the fifties.


At which point, of course, it represented the apex of domestic accomplishment. Or so it seems:


And look at these fingernails. They scream fifties!


The G&S uses — wait for it — sixteen gallons of water per wash. If, that is, you’re using the “Hygienic Super Wash,” (otherwise known as “the only one that has any effect.”) My dad recently bought a Bosch dishwasher. I think it was $1500. It uses four gallons of water per wash. It “likes” food to be encrusted on the plates. This makes it work better. It holds the silverware in gentle plastic fingers, caressing each fork and spoon individually with filtered, temperature-controlled, ultrasonic jets. It hums at a decibel level so low it is indiscernible to the dog. Who, to be fair, died several years back. My dad’s dog, that is. Still.

Our dog is not dead. And she hears our dishwasher just fine. As does the dog fourteen houses down. And his owners. And the dog fourteen houses down from them. The G&S is so loud it can be heard back in the fifties, by the man who first designed it. Who is also dead. Even so…

All I know is, I want a Bosch. I want to “put my home in the modern picture.” Hell, I want fingernails like the lady’s in the manual. But I don’t have any of it. Certainly not the nails. And with the amount of time I spend scraping ossified, super-hygienically heated food from my “clean” dinner plates, I’m not gonna have them any time soon.

The Return of The Prodigal Dyson

I finally get it. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. But it is about keeping up with their appliances, which are infinitely superior to ours.

After spending a few days with my newly purchased Dyson Animal I have found myself sucked (sorry) into a spinning vortex of new-appliance longing. Because this thing, this beautiful, perfect thing, (the cheapest model of its class, mind you), is so far superior to our old Electrolux it brings a tear to my eye. It is as if I am in the presence of the divine. Or, at least, a purple, plastic, lesser deity.

I have, for the last three days, been vacuuming recreationally. I have vacuumed where normally I would nap, or enjoy a cup of tea, or peruse the latest New Yorker. I have vacuumed and re-vacuumed, then vacuumed again: floors, rugs, chairs, window sills, my bed, my desk, the air. I have seriously considered vacuuming the dog. (I didn’t, only because I learned that Dyson makes a special head for this purpose. Far be it from me to approach such an undertaking with the wrong appurtenance. But look out, Mina. Your day is coming!)

My suspicions have been confirmed: Those other appliances the Joneses have that I still do not? The Mieles, Wolfs, Vikings, Sub Zeros, et al? They are as amazing as I suspect. They would make cooking/washing/drying more pleasurable, graceful, easy, eloquent, meditative, and even musical. Owning them would bring, if not joy, then at least massive satisfaction. Our current appliances would look like pathetic, rattling relics in contrast. Because, let’s face it, they are. I’ll go further. They suck. They suck hard. So hard that, if they were a vacuum, they’d run circles around a Dyson. But they’re not. They are a lame, spray-painted furnace of a stove, a Victorian-era douser of a dishwasher, a lumbering fabric-hater of  a washer/dryer. And my days of celebrating their quirkiness, their “vintageness,” their good-old-fashioned “quality” are over. From now on I will cast away my rose-colored glasses and see these items for what they are: clumsy, inept, off-colored dinosaurs to be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Probably never. But, hey, one can dream.

My husband, on the other hand? He likes the Dyson fine. He admires its traits. He is glad we got it. But when I suggested throwing away the Electrolux? He looked at me like I was insane.

“No way! Someone on Craig’s List will want that.”

The crazy thing is, he’s right.

But it won’t be me.