Tuesday, April 05, 2011

21st-Century Things That Really Annoy Me

1. Boxes of crackers in which only about half the crackers are whole. What is it with cracker companies in the 21st century? It used to be you bought a box of crackers, and maybe one or two were broken. Now, it seems, you're lucky if you don't find the majority of them to be mere pieces of crackers, barely big enough to hold a quarter olive let alone a nice hunk of cheese. I'm not fooled, are you? I don't think shippers have suddenly decided to start using boxes of crackers as punching bags en route to delivery. No, I think someone, somewhere, back in the 20th century, was hired to figure out how to get people to buy more crackers. His brilliant idea? "Let's break half the crackers before we package them. Nobody likes broken crackers. They'll eat the whole ones, throw the rest away, and buy more crackers." Someone even smarter than that guy ought to start a new company whose motto would be, "Unbroken, or your money back." I'd be willing to pay more for that box of crackers.

2. Sinks whose garbage disposal area is barely big enough for a glass. What are the people who design sinks and garbage disposals thinking? Most of the food that I need to dump down the disposal is stuck on big pots or on large round plates or in plastic storage containers that have been sitting in the back of the fridge way too long. I need the space where the garbage disposal is to be able to hold a frying pan or a 2-quart Tupperware container, so I can wash and scrub stuff without clogging up the sink. It defeats the whole purpose of the thing for the main part of the sink to have an old-fashioned drain, ready to snatch up any food debris that might clog it forever, and to have the garbage disposal off to the side, in it's own precious little compartment, something that seems to be saying, "Pay no attention to me. I really don't want to get all dirty with those nasty food bits you've got there, thus, I'm going to make it as inconvenient as possible for you to do so." It seems to me that when I was a kid and visited people who had garbage disposals (because my family would never have such a thing), it just sat right there in their sink in place of an ordinary drain.

3. Electronic devices (you know, like DVD players) that don't work (suddenly decide that, no matter what, they are not going to open and close when the appropriate button is pushed so that DVDs can be loaded and unloaded) or appliances (toaster ovens, say) that do the same (beep uncontrollably when left plugged in and flash an "error" message that won't go away). Nothing lasts anymore. Okay, granted, the DVD player is something like eight years old, but it's not as though it was used every day (or even once a week) for the past eight years. The toaster oven is only two -- yes two -- years old. My guess is that it would be more expensive to fix than to replace. Whatever happened to the days when your parents owned a black and white TV, and they promised you that when they finally needed to replace it, they'd get a color one, and you had to wait eighteen years before it broke, and they got that color TV?

4. Things that aren't the same. You know what I mean. You find a fabulous pair of yoga pants. They're just the right kind of soft. They're snug but not so tight they show every mole on your legs and every dimple in your butt. You love them. You could live in them. Unfortunately, after wearing them into the ground for two years, they develop a small hole. You go online and order "yoga pants" from the exact same company (all right, admittedly, you are dumb enough to think that just because it's the same company, and they sport the same name, they will be the same thing). They arrive, and you discover that what used to be something like 90% cotton and 10% spandex is now 95% spandex and 5% cotton. They're awful. They'll never be as soft as your old ones, no matter how often you wash them, and forget about what people can see when you wear them. You might as well walk around nude. Remember when you could buy a pair of jeans in 1974 from a particular company and buy another pair in 1976, and, if it was called the same thing (Levi's 501, for instance), it would be exactly the same?

5. "Conveniences" that aren't or that are forced on you. No, I don't really find it more convenient to do absolutely everything online. I want to make that decision myself. For instance, yes, I find it more convenient to pay my bills online. No, I don't find it more convenient to go online when my phone service is out, especially when my phone company may be my Internet provider (it isn't right now, but it could be), but I have been told by my phone company, when calling to report trouble, that I can avoid a wait by visiting its web site and reporting my problem online. Also, seeing as I hate to go shopping, if I happen to be in a store shopping for something, it's likely that I want that something now. I don't want to "check online" to see if they happen to have any available in their online store. Please, take me back to those old late-twentieth-century inconveniences, like employees at phone companies who answered the phone and knew that, yes, all the phones in your neighborhood happened to be out right now, because someone had hit a telephone pole, or when stores couldn't rely on the Internet and kept up their stock (remember the days when if you couldn't find it on the rack or the shelf, the nice sales clerk would just go to the back and get it for you?).

We really do turn into our parents, don't we? I sound like them more and more everyday.


Stefanie said...

Oh, this made me giggle. We bought a convection toaster over a few years ago and within 6 months the toaster part of it was broken. The oven part still works and we make due with toasting that way, but of course the toaster part turned off after sufficient toasting time had been reached, the oven does not and woe to the one who forgets about the toast!

Rhian said...

I so agree. I think I am turning into a Grumpy Old Woman (UK TV programme). Actually scratch that - I have already turned.

Emily Barton said...

Stefanie, this one is a convection toaster oven, too. I suppose I should also say how annoying it is that it's difficult to find just a plain old toaster oven these days.

Rhian, I've turned as well.

litlove said...

This made me laugh too. I am so with you on the yoga pants. I am trying to prolong the life of my now saggy-butted, battered and permanently grubby pants because the lovely company that supplied them to me (cheap, too!) has gone bust. And planned obsolescence really gets my goat. Why can't we be able to fix things, like our dads used to? It was such a good life skill and a little piece of optimism all by itself.

Emily Barton said...

Litlove, yes, why can't we fix things like our dads (well, not my dad, is was hopeless at such things, but MOST dads) used to do? Of course, I was so different when I was a kid, always wondering why my parents insisted on getting things fixed instead of getting brand, spanking new (and fancier) ones.