What do moving house, divorce, and replacing a microwave oven have in common?
They’re among the most stressful things you have to do in your life. Well, no, I can’t really justify that statement. Moving house isn’t so bad. But buying a microwave – that’s got to be up there with the worst of stresses.
Only it’s not just a microwave, it’s anything new. Once you get used to something, an item you have used for almost two decades, and then it breaks, you’re plunged into a world of new products, 21st-century technology – all 50 times more complicated than anything you’ve used before.
Like microwaves. Our old one lasted 18 years, with no problem. We only changed it due to rust beneath the turntable. Its main advantage was its ease of use – simple dials, an easy-to-follow instruction manual. Baked potatoes, one turn of the dial, hot chocolate, another.
Looking at new models, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the case. I chose the simplest I could find, but once I got it home I found the instructions ludicrously complex.
Programming the thing to bake a potato, I felt like I was manning the lunar launch at NASA. The manual was thicker than the Yellow Pages and full of degree-level physics-type equations about weights, measures and timings. My husband was baffled too. So back it went.
The next one wasn’t as bad, but it rusted within six months, so I returned it, and am now back to square one.
Our vacuum also broke last week, finally giving out after years of underperforming. So it was back to the shops where we were faced with a range of space-age machines with names like Cyclone and Tornado. From the descriptions of amazing, super suction power, I worried whether the rugs would be safe.
Another dilemma faced us – bag or bagless. I selected a model that looked vaguely like my Hoover of old, yet, lugging around the metallic collection of pipes and tubes, I feel like I’m equipped to fight aliens.
Again, things aren’t as simple as they used to be – canisters need regular washing, filters needs changing, and care has to be taken in positioning it in various places incase the ultra-powerful brushes damage the floor.
Is this progress? I think not. And now the oven has broken, I might start cooking on an open fire in the garden.