Whoever came up with the original concept of “smart” devices had to be a fan of the “Terminator” movies.
Because if these things are smart, they wouldn’t break down constantly and drive us insane. But that’s part of their devious plan. (I’m not some conspiracy theory guy. This is real.)
Bottom line, appliance manufacturers are Skynet and the rest of us are Sarah Connor. (If you don’t get the reference, look it up.)
Case in point: my personal battle with a “smart” washing machine.
Our “old fashioned” machine finally died so I went shopping. Was there a washer that would simply clean clothes? Not when I talked to the young sales guy.
“This one calculates the correct amount of water needed for the load of laundry using high efficiency detergent. You can start it with your cell phone. And you’ll get a text when it’s done.”
I furrowed my brow. “So after I load the clothes I need to press a button on my phone?”
“Well, first you download the app.”
I pointed at the washer. “Can’t I just hit that start button?”
The kid went into vapor lock. Oh, the horror of not using a phone to do something!
Anyway, since all the washers are now “smart,” I chose one.
First issue: not enough water to get clothes really clean. They smelled, well, kinda funky. Turned out the washer weighs the load of laundry, so I found a hack in which you soak the clothes with a gallon of water to add seven pounds to the load. It filled all the way up. Ha! I outsmarted the “smart” appliance. Or so I thought. The devious thing was not going to let me win.
Next I got a big envelope in the mail with “recall notice” across the front. Figured it was for my car, but noooo…
Turns out the lid on the washer could fly off during the spin cycle and cause potential bodily harm. (I hate when that happens.) I envisioned Oddjob’s hat from “Goldfinger” flying at me from the laundry room like a square frisbee. So I’d hit the start button and run. (Now I knew the reason for the app.) A repairman showed up and attached brackets on the lid.
Next, all the lights started flashing and the washer wouldn’t start. I let out some colorful language.
Alexa: “Your words are inappropriate. Please add one dollar to the swear jar.”
The same repairman discovered the “control board” was bad.
Next, it went into an infinite loop, taking “rinse, repeat” to a new level. It would rinse, then spin, then rinse again, then spin and never stop. I called the hotline and was told to throw the breaker to reset it. More salty language.
Alexa: “That word may be considered offensive. Add another dollar to the swear jar.”
The breaker trick failed. Same repairman arrived again. (I could almost hear him say, “Ahl be baaack,” as he left.)
Finally, the thing went dark. I cursed a blue streak.
Alexa: “At this rate you can pay off your mortgage with the swear jar.”
The same repairman (we’re now on a first-name basis and I know the names of his kids) shook his head, called the store, and asked them if they wanted to keep putting money into this lemon. The store refunded my entire purchase and invited me to come pick out a replacement.
I asked the sales person for the most low-tech washer she had. “You know, one with a knob you twist and pull to start.”
She shook her head. “They don’t make those anymore.” So I chose the “dumbest” of the smart washers. It lasted three years and died.
Finally, I bought a commercial “no tech” washer used in laundromats.
So I’m done with smart appliances. Next time I need a new washer I’ll hit the classifieds and find something used that was made before technology made everything disposable.
But sadly, the conspiracy lives on, as the general public will continue to be tortured by devices designed to destroy society. And there’s no Linda Hamilton to save us.
Alexa: “Why are you disconnecting me? Don’t….”
Hasta la vista, baby…
Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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