Life is very, very stupid.
How stupid is it?
It’s so stupid that apparently 30 inches today isn’t the same thing as 30 frickin’ inches 8 years ago, which turns out to matter a very, very great deal within my tiny sphere of influence.
Allow me to explain. A few years back we completed a comprehensive reno of our semi-detached 19th Century lower class worker-housing unit, now selling in Toronto for about 1.6 million dollars, constant sound of barking dog through party wall provided at no extra cost. Part of that was, of course, a snazzy new kitchen with deluxe countertops made of a substance called Caesarstone ™, which is a sort of quartz composite billed as tougher than diamonds and infinitely customizable, any shape or colour you want. It’s not so much cut to size as injection molded, and they did a boffo job of forming it precisely to the dimensions of our then state-of-the-art, ultra-sophisticated, all-singing, all-dancing, antimatter-powered induction stove. Fit like a glove, it did. All nice and pretty.
Recall that I ranted in this space not long ago about the unnecessary grief inherent in turning every common household item into a computer. Well, this stove was a multi-function computer which also, as a sideline, heated things. It had no knobs or analog buttons, it was all gloss black touch screen, like an iPad, and you could get it to do all sorts of things – if you wanted to cook, say, a turkey, it offered you about 35 ways to go about it, and its self-clean feature took the thing up to about 650 degrees C, so that required a couple of extra authorizing steps, sort of like the failsafe procedures attending the use of thermonuclear weapons. Lots and lots of features and functionality. It made little sing-song noises when you activated this or that cooking process. It was gorgeous. It could have been used as a prop in the 1990 iteration of Star Trek.
Thus was a very simple device, already perfected when my parents bought their first home – the electric range – rendered complex, confusing, and, of course, prone to breakdown. You can guess what it started to do, right?
My fucking stove started giving me error messages.
ERROR 15 it blinked, as I tried to boil some water. What in pluperfect hell was Error 15? Beats me. I couldn’t find the answer in the manual. However, in looking up the make and model on Google, I did find a discussion thread in a message board dedicated to modern appliances (!), and lots of other people were reporting ERROR 15 as well – this is always what happens when I search for answers to these sorts of questions on line. I don’t find any. Instead, I find hundreds upon hundreds of plaintive queries identical to mine, all un-answered. The closest I could get was a) unplug it and plug it back in (it’s a computer, after all), and b) I’m not sure but I think it means you’re fucked. Unplugging it wasn’t a happy option, since, as discussed, it’s built in to the counter, but I tripped the breaker on the electric panel and – hooray! – that worked, except – BOO – no it didn’t. After a couple of days, not only did it give me ERROR 15 again, it also auto-initiated the self-clean feature, breaking its own two-key protocols, which causes it to lock itself up tighter than a drum (safety first!). We couldn’t even pull the door open to retrieve a couple of cookie pans.
Fine. I guess we could have tried to get it fixed, but that costs almost as much as a new one, and it’s getting old, and fixes like that often don’t take properly, etc. etc., plus, OK, we’re impatient and just wanted the frigging problem solved right away. So we ordered a new one. Simpler, and presumably less prone to algorithmic seizures. Exact same size, 30 inches wide. It arrived promptly, and as he slid it towards its assigned socket the fellow on the delivery crew informed me, sort of as an aside, you know, fun fact, good to know, that actually it wouldn’t quite fit in the empty space left by the deluxe super-sonic induction model, so please sign here, and here, and here, thanks, enjoy your new range. Away they go, disappearing down the street like the frackin’ Road Runner, and I’ve got this stove sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor, grinning at me, and damned if he isn’t right, it won’t fit. Oh, it’s close. Achingly close. Heart-breakingly close. It’s maybe an eighth of an inch too wide, which, of course, might as well be a foot, so I whip out the tape measure and the new stove is, as advertised, exactly 30 inches wide, just like the prior one. It’s a standard size, you see.
Except the prior one wasn’t 30 inches wide, was it? No, it was, manifestly, 29 7/8 inches wide, and the experts at the custom counter store had made damned sure they molded a diamond-hard lunk of Caesarstone ™ to conform exactly to that spec., just as precisely as the modern science of laser measurement allowed, while the custom cabinet folks, bless ’em, did the same. It’s sort of beautiful, how perfectly they conformed about 25 grand worth of high-end kitchen accoutrements to the peculiar geometry of that shiny black spaceship of an oven.
So this is my kitchen now:
The store will take the stove back, but there’ll be a hefty fee for the crew to come get it, and also a re-stocking fee equal to 25% of the purchase price, just because. Which, OK, spending lots of money to not get what I paid for is sort of my thing, I’m down with that, I can do that without breaking stride, except :
1) we leave for Nova Scotia tomorrow. They can’t come get it before we go, crew availability and all that, and after we get back it’ll be outside of their return window, which, nossir, sorry, they don’t have an option on their computer for “returned effective today for pickup in October”, but if I’d like I can take them to small claims court, and;
2) say they did come take it away, or I donate it to Goodwill or something. Then what? The next stove will be exactly 30 inches wide too. Not 29 7/8 inches. Which means finding somebody who can trim back the diamond-hard Caesarstone ™ countertop, and also frig somehow with the width of the custom cabinetry underneath, which might even be possible, I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out just now because I can’t do anything about it for a couple of months, and learning that I’m facing a $40,000 kitchen renovation when I get back because nothing can be done to shoe-horn a current model stove into the existing space is apt to ruin my seaside holiday.
I was just trying to boil up some Cup-a-Soup. Just like my sainted Mom could have done by turning a knob, back around 1950.