I don’t know if there is a term for this domestic phenomena, but I’m sure you have experienced it….that weird timing when either you will run out of certain supplies all at the same time, or things will quit working all at the same time. Perhaps you run out of toilet paper in each of your bathrooms on the same day. Or 3 different light bulbs in your house blow in one week. Of course, if we all had staff to keep track of these items and perform daily maintenance, we probably would never really notice. But naturally, since we Real Women are the ones to do the shopping, and we manage households that routinely need minor repairs, this phenomena can be pretty darn annoying – especially when it starts happening to larger equipment.
Within just the past week, my household has experienced the following: My oven died. The guts to one of our toilets gave out, making it run constantly. The icemaker in our freezer broke somehow, and started spraying water all over the inside of the freezer to refreeze in a glacial mess. The computer is not booting up correctly. And the motor in the shop vac is dying. None of these are minor “oh well, time to replace a light bulb” kind of nuisances….and I have to tell you, when they all seem to happen at once, it is pretty darn frustrating.
The one thing that all of these items have in common (except the computer, and I think that is just having a little bad technology attitude) is that each of them were new when we built our house 13 years ago. Which leads me to believe that perhaps the life span of most appliances, or parts of them, is about 13 years. That in turn leads me to a few questions: Is 13 years good or bad? Should things last longer? Is it verifying that phrase “they don’t make ‘em like they used to?” (whoever “they” is?). Is there some truth to 13 perhaps not being a lucky number? Even worse, “oh, no, what’s next?!”
I took a few minutes to think about my beloved oven. I realized that when we bought it new, we chose a fairly low-end basic model. We were tight on funds, and got a standard no-frills stove/oven. I cook and bake a lot. So realistically, that oven has been used almost every day, if not several times each week, for 13 years, sometimes for hours at a stretch. Ok, so maybe it doesn’t owe me too much. And the icemaker, well, that has been working every day for the same period of time – and my husband thinks it is just a cracked hose, which can be fairly easily replaced. Perhaps I can’t answer the question that lurks in my mind about the quality or craftsmanship of modern parts in the things we use every day. But I do know that at my age, I know some of my own parts don’t work as well as they used to either. So I should probably cut my appliances a bit of a break.
And yes, I’m well aware that this could be just the tip of the iceberg, and more things could soon need repairing or replacing. Maybe I can turn it into some sort of guessing game – so it will seem less of an annoyance when I go to turn something on and nothing happens. Besides, having to do replacements is not always bad. Today we took delivery on my nifty new double oven unit, and in a kitchen-geeky kind of way, I’m very excited about it. The only issue is tonight I have to wade through a thick owner’s manual just to know how to use it. All I had to do on the old one was turn a nob….so it really is true – they’d DON’T make them like they used to.