The Life and Hard Times of Inanimate Objects

 I was busy rebuking my toaster yesterday when I had a revelation. It had burned my single piece of gluten free bread, an item expensive enough to make me swaddle it in butter and honey and eat it anyway. Our friends may recognize us for who we are, our family even more so. But nobody knows us as well as our household goods. This includes walls, floor and ceilings, but most of my vitriol seems to be aimed at my appliances.

I try to be the kind of person who thanks them for their service as recommended in that Japanese book about not holding onto crap. But I’m more like an ungrateful girlfriend. I fall into abusive verbal behavior very easily. And for my poor vacuum, there’s not a court in the land that will hold me to account. ‘You clean my floors well,’ I say to my Dyson. ‘But why does your cord insist on getting caught in the furniture feet? Why do you always make me walk across the room to bend over and untangle it?? Why, Mr. Dyson? Isn’t that your job? Things seemed to be going so well when I first bought you. But lately your attitude sucks.”

Next, I give my drill a serious lecture. ‘Why won’t you hold onto the bit? My job is to hold you. Yours is to grip the bit and let me get this screw into this board!’ As I holler, I can sense all the tools in the house shivering in their poorly organized cases. The walls hear everything. And I am not a silent whiner. Even before my husband became a landed resident in heaven, I was very vocal about the shortcomings of our possessions. 

And yet, I consider myself a grateful person. I am continually giving thanks, aloud, for things like my comfortable bed, warm home, family and friends. Anyone overhearing me would be inclined to think that my character is above reproach. Sadly, as my mangled can opener will tell you, this is not true. 

I’m confessing publicly to appliance abuse as the first step in my self made program I’ve taken to calling ‘Inanimate Objects Anonymous.’ Before you get any ideas about joining, let me tell you up front that this is a one person group. I’m all I can handle right now. I kneel apologetically before my kitchen stove (something I’ve picked up from all those Korean Dramas on Netflix) and tell it I’m sorry for swearing at it last night. I must have programmed the oven incorrectly. (See how I’m owning up to my mistakes? This program is working!) 

And then I notice the pot of soup I left simmering on a back element. Most of the broth is gone and the mushrooms and vegetables are sticking to the bottom. An almost burned smell is rising through the kitchen, along with my temper. “That damned pot,” I mutter, trying to be quiet so the stove won’t hear me. Is this a step backwards? Perhaps. I might have to give back the coin I gave myself for one whole day of nice behavior.

It’s Covid 19’s fault. Okay? There were white and black birds singing on the lake this summer that were less loony than I’ve become over the last six months. Besides going for a walk, I try to do one thing per day that gets me out of the house. Mail a letter. Buy groceries. Drop off some books for a friend. Little make-work jobs meant to shorten the day. But there are mornings when I wonder if I should even bother washing my face. Because, who cares? I’m wearing a mask everywhere I go. I could have spinach stuck between every tooth and no one would know.

I feel better getting this off my shoulders. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with a bit of a temper problem. Maybe other people don’t take their frustrations out on their household appliances, but I think it’s better than yelling at the postal worker for not giving me mail two whole days in a row. 

Last night I heard strange whisperings and rustlings coming from the basement. Since my deceased husband Clarence and I have a pact that he will check in now and again, but without being creepy, I knew it wasn’t him. And I realized that if I’m not careful, the neighbors could come in search of me one day and find me at the bottom of the stairs, the vacuum posed innocently at the top, and a pot in my hand with a strange dent in it. Okay, time for another meeting. I really need to earn back that coin. 

Published by Judith Anne Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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