I rarely write my column during the day. Tonight is no different. We’ve eaten supper, cleaned up the kitchen and walked the dog. It’s dark. Time to write. But I have to put on my sunglasses first.

In the dark? Yes, yes I do. Because we got a new microwave and its clock is so bright I have to put on my shades to keep from being blinded. That digital clock illuminates the kitchen, the stairs, and the walls down the hall.

Our microwave quit while it was heating up two cobs of corn. (By the way, did you know if you cook your corn-on-the-cob in the husk, then cut off the “handle” and the first row of kernels, you can squeeze the silk end and the cob will come out of the husk completely free of silk? Try it. But not right now, because right now you’re busy reading this column.) Halfway through the cooking cycle, our microwave quit. No warning. No heavy sigh or last raspy cough and breath. It just stopped. Kaput. The end.

Just like that (*finger snap*) we time-traveled backward to the late ’70s when we did our speedy cooking over the stovetop. Back then, for a quick supper we boiled Banquet Cookin' Bags in water (Salisbury steak was my favorite), then burned our fingers opening the steaming hot bag and dumping its meat and gravy over a piece of white bread. Or we opened both cans of La Choy chow mein and poured the contents into a sauce pan to heat over the stove. “Radaranges” didn’t belong in the kitchen; they were big square machines that sent electromagnetic waves into the atmosphere which, we’d heard, would cause us to glow green from radiation if we stood too close to them.

When our microwave went down, we didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by using the full-size oven as the alternative. We wasted no time trying to resolve our microwave walk-out. I was not keen on the idea of simply buying a new microwave and adding the old one to the landfill. At a mere six years of age, it seemed to have an internal injury but was otherwise young, good looking and appeared to be fit. Certainly the problem would be easy to repair.

The YouTube videos we watched convinced us that all we had to do was replace the fuse. Easy enough, right? But when we got the thing unbolted from under the cupboards, balanced its weight on a water cooler on top of the stove, got the top panel removed and got the side panel out of the way, we discovered it was not plugged into an outlet, but was wired to, um, other wires. I was not going to mess with raw wires.

A few days later our friend Richard came over to help. Richard knows stuff. (He’s a stuff-knower, his daughter tells us.) But Richard said the voltmeter got extremely hot when he tested the wires. Not only did our cooker go on strike, it had a microwave melt-down! Richard, the stuff-knower who can fix everything, told us to get a new microwave.

We looked online but the wait time for delivery was unacceptable. Obviously GE did’t understand how important our microwave was to our well-being. So Joe went shopping and when he came home, he told me he’d bought a microwave.

“Super! Where is it? ” I asked.

He chuckled in that warm, chuckly way of his. It would be two weeks before we’d see it in our kitchen.

We were going to be microwave free for two more weeks? That’s like being dairy free and gluten free at the same time. Impossible.

When Joe called to confirm the installation appointment the day before the guys were scheduled to show up, the store claimed they had no record of a set delivery date, but it wasn’t going to be tomorrow. Although the machine was “in the back, ” it would be three more weeks before someone could install it.

Joe couldn’t fix our microwave but there’s something that makes him a handyman in a different sense. He has karma. Very good karma. Parking spots open up for him, free tickets land in his lap, and delivery companies bend over backward to accommodate him. He paid a visit to the appliance store and a few days later our microwave was delivered. It was handy Joe karma.

With the new unit unboxed and ready, the installers took one look at the old unit’s wiring and said it was a mess. For $40 they could put in an outlet. And for another $120 they could built up the back wall so the vent would work properly. And they could take our old, burned-up machine off our hands for $40.

By the time it was all over, we spent more than $600 on a new microwave. With a clock that could double as a lighthouse.

I searched online for instructions on how to dim the clock light. Like most instructions I find online, they didn’t apply to my situation. My brand new microwave wasn’t the right model for the online instructions. I called customer service and learned from the pleasant woman on the other end that just as many people complain about their light being too dim as too bright. There is no way to darken it or turn the clock off altogether.

What’s a microwave manufacturer’s solution? Make it so that no one can do a thing about their too dim/too bright clock light. Except include sunglasses in the box.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address, donoholdt@gmail.com.

© 2022 Sarah Donohoe

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