Extra Parts

Appliances are things we rely on to make modern life comfortable, convenient and, usually, cheerful. They transform dull, spongy bread into crisp toast, rock-hard brown beans become coffee, and, thanks to them, spoilage-prone foods are long-lasting.

Altogether, appliances are wonderful devices that, mostly, are underappreciated. A national movement demanding respect and justice for the mostly miserable (and-it’s-your-fault) appliances is at the grassroots level awaiting a community organizer, or “see-oh,” as they’re called.

Some appliances seem costly. But they aren’t. Not really. Oh, sure, one can pay $1,000 (easily) and more for a refrigerator. Which, on its face, does seem like a lot. But, are you capable of keeping food cold and fresh? Would you prefer, instead, a nice, old ice box? No, of course not. So cough-up the cash.

More significantly, on a per-year basis, appliances are downright cheap. For sake of round numbers, that one-grand fridge will last 10 years. A hundred bucks a year. Not-so-terrible. On a per-day basis (which, without taking off my socks, I can’t begin to figure-out), even better and more reasonable.

So, what’s the complaint?

Repairs.

More specifically, the parts necessary to perform the repair.

My nearly-new upright vacuum cleaner, not more than 10 (OK, maybe more) years old, recently stopped working. Smack-dab in the middle of a pre-winter cleaning frenzy. Tragic, I know.

The problem was its broken belt. (Pants fell down. No. Not that one.) After writing down the cleaner’s manufacturer, model name, model number, the part number (from the handy owner’s destruction manual I still retain and that is now yellow with age), I set off to get its replacement. Vacuum cleaner belts cost about five bucks. $4.98, to be precise.

Three stores – Walmart, Target and the local hardware store that has everything, including gruff but knowledgeable old guys, Debbie Supply – and no luck. I was nearly convinced that in order to cure the five-dollar problem, I’d have to spend $150 for a new cleaner.

But at the fourth store, Home Depot, voila, I had it. Well, they had it.

Vacuum cleaner belts, as every schoolboy knows, come two to a package. I’m not sure why. The appliance uses one at a time.

So, now, the new complaint: what am I to do with the extra belt and where will I store it until the time at which I need it? I am, by the way, convinced I’ve previously made the identical purchase – maybe more than once – and the other extra belts are floating around the house. Someplace.

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