Sandra Tsing Loh's fridge.
I'm sure churning butter was hard, way back when. As was beating laundry down by the stream. Not to mention shearing sheep and spinning wool into yarn and knitting underwear. If they had underwear.
Nonetheless, modern life also poses considerable challenges. Like appliances, for instance. Over the last century, we've gone from having almost no appliances, to having helpful appliances, to having too-smart-for-their-own-good appliances.
I have a fairly new, fairly fancy Kitchen Aid refrigerator that came with my house. Four years in, it stops making ice. The fixit guy from Sears comes over. He says it needs a new part... but here's the twist. There is no telling which part because we can't figure out the model number of the refrigerator. All we know is it's stainless steel - of which Kitchen Aid appears to have 17 kinds, with 17 different families of parts. There's no model number on the trendily spare front, back, or even inside the circuit board we pull out of a mysterious bottom drawer.
The only place Kitchen Aid put the model number was - get ready - on an ink-jet-printed paper sticker they glued to the top right inside of the fridge. Right where you keep the milk. So, in fact, our entire household has spent four years gradually rubbing off the model number with our right hands and forearms while pulling milk in and out of the fridge. Great! Might as well throw away the entire refrigerator now! Ink rubbed off the paper sticker!
Not that it's always Kitchen Aid's fault. Faced with a leaky kitchen faucet, I took a wrench - And I was amazed I could actually find a wrench - To try to tighten the hexagonal spigot... nut... thingy - My partner Charlie sensed I didn't know what I was doing - So, he stepped in with his manly strength, turned the wrench the wrong way - And with a scream was rocked back with a propulsive roar of water -
I'm sad to say I called the fire department which, in 30 seconds, simply turned off the water line thingy under the sink -
Although now, of course, we had no dishwasher and, weirdly, no microwave because it had been so doused with water its - what do you call it, its brain board - Intelligence board - Smart board - whatever... had fritzed. Gone are the days when microwaves just made popcorn. We were advised to test the circuit breaker, but the microwave is built in - Does it even have a plug? And anyway, the piece of paper taped to the outside breaker box that says which circuits are which, um, blew away a few years ago in that very strong wind.
Next week: How many confused adults does it take to change a light bulb?
Dim Bulbs, Part One: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Sandra Tsing Loh's fridge.