Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

August 26, 2013

GROUNDS FOR INSANITY: If only appliances came with a few friendly messages

When it happens, it’s a crisis. No, I mean it. Look up the word “crisis” in any dictionary, and there’ll be a picture of a microwave oven, black smoke rising, sitting amidst a shower of sparks.

At our house, a microwave is a must. It is (say it with me now) our friend. Here, I use it frequently in cooking and baking and for critical tasks, such as reheating pizza. Mr. Schrock, he cooks his morning oatmeal, and Little Bit has popped enough popcorn to feed an African village. Before he could read, he knew which button said “popcorn,” and he used it.

Our modern appliances are a wonder. Who knew that a microwave could be friendly? Who? Imagine, please, my surprise at what it told me the first time I used it. “Enjoy your meal,” it said in bright green letters on the scrolling display when the timer went off for my egg rolls.

Finding a warm, fuzzy message from my new oven got me thinking. What was next? A cheerful little recording whenever one lay down on a mattress, saying, “Here’s to some flop-free sleep?” A readout on the new-generation dryers along the lines of, “Best wishes for finding the socks?”

Not, I thought darkly, that the last one wouldn’t cheer me up, for no matter how hard I tried, I came up short. Every single time. It could drive a mom to distraction, this one thing, and a chirpy type of message from the device apparently eating them wouldn’t, I thought, help my mood.

Manufacturers need to be careful, or all that good cheer would have the opposite effect. Imagine this message showing up on your range display as you were cooking the family’s dinner: “If you burn it like an idiot, there’s takeout. Call Peter Piper’s Pizza instead.” No. That wouldn’t help a frazzled cook with a child clinging to one leg while someone else used her apron as a Kleenex.

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