An Unexpected Side Effect of COVID

This past year, we experienced an unexpected side effect of Covid. I’m not talking about growing a tail as the result of one of the vaccines, or some strange side effect of the virus itself like coughing up your liver. I’m talking about kitchen appliances. “Huh?, you say. Let me explain. Side effect of COVID

Last July through September (2020) my wife and I left our condo in Florida to stay in the mountains of North Carolina, cleverly avoiding the heat and hurricanes. We decided that it would be a good idea to have the kitchen and upstairs bathroom remodeled in the Florida condo while we were gone. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Side effect of COVID

These Florida condos near the beach are 30 years old, and ours needed some improvements. We decided to replace the kitchen appliances, in addition to the stacked washer/dryer in an alcove in the hallway. We also added new cabinets, cabinet tops, sink, the works. The upstairs bathroom got new toilet, cabinets, tops, sink, faucets, lighting, mirrors. We had already replaced the shower. Side effect of COVID  

The unexpected side effect of Covid occurred when we contacted a number of appliance stores. It seemed that Covid had screwed up both the appliance manufacturing plants and the supply chain. Therefore, only a few very expensive high end appliances were available, and we were lucky to get those. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to remodel a kitchen without appliances. So, we bit the bullet and picked some out for the remodel from what was available at that time. Side effect of COVID

We returned to Florida in October, after the remodel was completed. We considered it a win that it only took the contractor an extra month to finish. I entered the condo and carefully looked around. I had low expectations, because in my previous experience contractors never close the door while working. They also never clean their shoes before entering, and often leave damage in the walls and floors where they’ve moved large items such as appliances. Side effect of COVID

I was pleased that there were no alligators, snakes or lizards under the bed (this is Florida, and with the door open all the time?). The floors were reasonably clean. There was no damage anywhere in the house, and the kitchen and upstairs bathroom looked nice. We were happy. Side effect of COVID

The next morning, I went upstairs to brush my teeth. I turned on the hot water in the beautiful granite-top sink, and found myself standing there, holding the damned hot water handle in my hand. The brand new faucet handle had come off. I discovered that it was only held in place with plumber’s putty. After a small stroke, I took a nap. (Please note, this was not a side effect of Covid; in my experience it’s just status quo for contractors with too much work). Side effect of COVID

The actual Covid side effect came with the upscale appliances. I had forgotten that high end appliances come with more options…many, many more options. I prefer things that are simple and functional. You know, like a dish washer that actually washes the dishes, without a laser guided drying system. Or a refrigerator that doesn’t also include a minus 37-degree freezer or liquid nitrogen tank to store your Covid vaccine as options. Side effect of COVID

Due to Covid, we ended up with high-end appliances with many ridiculously complicated, confusing and unnecessary options. The refrigerator has a water and ice dispenser that would confound Einstein. I’m constantly pushing the button that turns on the light when trying to dispense water. So, I get this blink on, blink off thing going…but no cold water. And crushed ice versus cubes? Forget it. The thing has a mind of its own and decides for you, perhaps by reading your mind?

There’s a crazy menu for setting the temperature, with separate setting for seemingly every square inch of the appliance. And, in spite of the ridiculous price there appears to be little in the way of insulation between the freezer on the left and the refrigerator on the right. To date I continue to be presented with diet Pepsi-cicles, unintentionally frozen yogurt and milk. It’s impossible to balance freezer and refrigerator temperature properly. I’m sure there’s an App for that, but I haven’t found it yet. Side effect of COVID

The oven has a convection cycle, which I don’t even understand. I think it has something to do with if you need to cook an entire cow. You shove the thing in there, hit the convection button, and extremely hot air circulates around the carcass. I think this is supposed to removes the skin, gut the animal, filet it and out pops a whole lot of cooked beef…steaks, chops, hamburger, tongue, you name it. I’ve never seen it in action, but it sounds impressive. Side effect of COVID

Then, there’s the dish washer. The damned thing’s so quiet I can never tell when it’s turned on. There’s supposed to be a light somewhere that changes color to give me a clue, but I can’t find the thing. I’m always opening it up while it’s running, getting hit with scalding water and a blast of steam in the face. And, there are at least ten drying cycles, including one that just disintegrates the dishes. I don’t think you need to run the wash cycle with that one. Side effect of COVID

The microwave is another thing. It’s very elegant; you know…the old “less for more is better”…so thin and sleek that it doesn’t take up much space. It also won’t hold most of the bowls I use to microwave food. And again, there are so many settings, and they are not intuitive. I have figured out that pushing the picture of the light bulb does not, in fact, start the microwave. I think it might flush the toilet, but I’m not sure. Side effect of COVID

After a couple of days, I finally figured out how to turn on the start button, which also automatically adds 30 seconds to whatever time I dialed in. So, I manage to burn everything. The first time I tried to make popcorn, it came out as cindercorn, burnt black. I gave up, put butter on it, and ate it anyway. Easier than trying to figure out the microwave. Side effect of COVID

The washer/dryer is my favorite. Both units have about 25 settings, for washing and drying anything from one sock to all the clothes in your neighborhood. I think there’s even a setting if you want to throw your car in there to wash it, but I believe it will only work on small sedans…no SUVs or pickup trucks. Side effect of COVID

I only use a single setting on the washer for all our clothes, bedding, etc., and same for the dryer. I’d actually be terrified to try anything else. God knows what would happen. Our previous clothes dryer had a high setting for spin that sounded like the turbine engine on a jet fighter. First time I used that one I hid under the bed until it was done. Side effect of COVID

I guess it could be worse. We might have ended up with those new appliances that you can talk to…you know…”turn on water”…”cook food”… “forage for food”…”wash something”…”bake a cake.” I want a stove that will automatically “make donuts.” I love chocolate iced donuts. However, if we went the route of the talking appliances, we’d have to find a model that understands four letter words. I probably couldn’t figure out how to use them either, and I am kind of a crotchety old man at this point. Side effect of COVID

So, hopefully by diligently wearing my mask, never going near another human being, and getting vaccinated (no tail yet), I won’t die from a Covid infection. But, it still might get me through this confounded kitchen. Side effect of COVID

If you liked this blog post, you will most likely also enjoy MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, my daughter and my new book. It’s available on Amazon Barnes&Noble and Indie Books

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