Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Old Stuff That Still Works

Today I’m going to sing the praises of some old things in my possession. I don’t so much own them, as I just live comfortably alongside them and use them as needed. In this throwaway society, they have been old friends to me, working out a long lifespan in my company.

First, my refrigerator. In 1987 I bought this aging General Electric fridge from a friend who has since passed away. I paid two hundred dollars for it. It has faithfully hummed away through two earthquakes, a marriage, my drunken stupors, my neglect, my rush of caring every year or so, and 20 years of my sobriety, not to mention three moves.

Last year, when we moved it to put in a new kitchen floor, I looked at its old eggshell white appearance and promptly went down to the appliance store. There I asked about fancy new ones that cost upwards of $1,500.

The fellow told me, “They all run on computer chips now. They’re harder to repair. Yours is actually made from replaceable parts. Keep it if it’s still running.”
So I did.

Second, my cell phone. I got this old Cingular Samsung in 2006 when I relapsed and took it with me to rehab, where I didn’t use it. I think four years qualifies as aged for a cell phone. I can’t take pictures with it, and it doesn’t work when I go to Big Sur, but on the other hand, I’ve never dropped it, washed it, lost it, or had it malfunction. I actually feel fond of my cell phone.

Third, my blessed laptop. I bought this HP in 2004 when I went into business for myself as a writer and editor. My fingers know this keyboard like the back of my hand. I had it serviced this past year, and mumbled to my computer guy about getting a new one. He grumbled back at me: “If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it.”

This is also my theory of marriage.

Finally, I must tell you about my phenomenal egg beater. It’s a portable Sunbeam Mixmaster. This thing is one of the oldest items in my collection of usable old things. It’s so old, I can’t even tell you the first years of its history.

In 1976, my beloved father bid on some abandoned box containers down at the local moving company. The rule was, you bid blind, not knowing the contents of the boxes. He liked a challenge.

It was a treasure hunt, the day we went through those boxes. They were someone’s household goods, left behind in Barstow, California, a veritable oasis in the Mojave Desert. I got most of the stuff because I was furnishing my college home. This all happened 34 years ago, and I’ve lost memory of what the other stuff was.

The Sunbeam Mixmaster, however, has been a vital part of my household ever since. My father died in 1983. My mother has Alzheimer’s now. But my Mixmaster is still beating away, with a lot of Sunbeam smiles.
What old stuff are you still using?


the walking man said...

Having things last is very cool and really doesn't take as much to keep them as it does to replace them. My laptop and PC are both HP's and I like them both for different reasons.

But really Just Chris, you DO need to update your Adobe Reader to 9.0 and install firefox as an alternative to explorer for an operating system.

Karen said...

I'm of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school, myself, and I have a mixer exactly like that! I have no idea how old it is -- I can't remember ever not having it! Probably the oldest thing we have that my husband talks about replacing is our home heating system. The average life span for a heat pump/air conditioning unit it eleven years. Ours is now twenty-seven. It still works. All the time. My husband fears it will go out when we have a houseful of company at Christmas when it's twenty degress outside. I vote we live dangerously!

Madison said...

Imagine if that refrigerator could talk.

Anonymous said...

The larger story is that quality in things and in People is worth holding onto.

It save us money too.


Brian Miller said...

my couch is 13 years old...it has not stopped working. lol.

i think the oldest thing in our house are my books...they still work too. smiles.

Kim A. said...

I love posts like this because I can identify so well. For me, it is my cast iron pans, my grandmother's rolling pin, my 1985 coffee maker my mother bought me, and my grandmother's dish towels. How I love it when I use these items. True touchstones. I loved your list.


Shadow said...

i think old is better. the new stuff seems to have a built-in lifespan of about 2 years these days...

lakeviewer said...

oH, I wish I could list any thing older than six years. When we moved here, we gave everything away. We started new. New things break more easily. I've already had to replace a refrigerator!

Syd said...

Almost everything in the house furniture wise is antique--a couple of hundred years old, some dating to the Revolution. Our old washing machine has been with us for over 20 years. But we have new kitchen appliances. We still have the wedding gifts of casserole dishes, mixing bowls, etc. And I use my grandmother's old pound cake pans. They are darkened with age but cook a great cake. I'm glad that you love these old things too.

Julie said...

Everything I have is old...lol! But I'm like you, Chris. I love it. I wouldn't mind replacing my old car, because it keeps breaking down. But I love old appliances, because they are the best. Everything new is built so cheaply nowadays. Your mixer rocks!! You're very smart to keep the refrigerator.

I love old houses, too. We used to live in an old house that had the most awesome woodwork throughout the house and old, wooden cabinets in the kitchen. People kept telling us we should replace the cabinets. Why? Just to "be like everybody else" and have something modern? Bah. I love old cabinets! They're thick and sturdy and much more beautiful than new. Old things also have more character and tell stories:)

Excellent post, Chris! Your theory of marriage made me smile, too.

Tall Kay said...

This cracked me up! I am such a keeper of old things. I think I still have clothes dating back to the 80's...I'm waiting for those to work again! :o)

I had an old fridge too which I begrudgingly finally parted with. My electric bill immediately dropped $50 a month. You'll be shocked at how much those old appliances suck up the power! Very fun post!