A co-worker once asked me if I grew up during the Depression. “No, I did not,” I snapped. “If I’d grown up during the Depression, don’t you think I’d be retired by now?”
I might have been a little defensive. But she was teasing me about my ancient radio, and she wasn’t the first person to do it. The radio was a hand-me-down from my husband who got it before we met, and we met a long time ago. He was going to toss it, but I rescued it and took it to my office because it still worked — usually.
Sometimes it didn’t come on when I turned it on. And sometimes it came on when I didn’t turn it on. It was like magic, but that’s not why I kept it.
I didn’t keep it for sentimental reasons either. When it quit working altogether, I disposed of it and took my son’s castoff radio/CD player to work, and it’s been there ever since.
And I didn’t keep the radio because I’m too cheap to buy a new one. I’m not cheap. I might not even qualify as thrifty. I rarely shop sales and I eat avocados—a lot. Nobody who buys as many avocados as I do could be called thrifty. Those are green because they’re made of money. The only reason I can afford them is because I’ve saved so much on radios.
I’ve saved a lot not replacing other things too. My bathrobe and my sheepskin bedroom slippers are both at least 20 years old. They’re still in good shape though—at least by my standards, which may not be that high if my radio is any indication.
The travel case I used for more than 30 years to carry my toothbrush and travel shampoo wasn’t in good shape by anybody’s standards. Looking at it, you’d think I travel a lot more than I do. But it still did the job, so I used it until my sister, who travels with me occasionally, got tired of looking at it and gave me a new one. I love it! It’s got a place for everything. It’s purple and it’s built to last. I bet it lasts longer than the old one did.
I appreciate durable products. It’s a touchy subject for me right now because my dishwasher has started leaving food behind. That means I have to wash the dishes before it washes the dishes or risk having to wash them after it washes them. That’s much harder because the heat-dry part of the cycle works just fine.
When I find something that holds up—be it a bathrobe or a radio—I keep it because so many things don’t hold up. My stove, computer, printer, vacuum cleaner, and garage door opener are all relatively new. No, we didn’t win big on The Price is Right. Everything in my house is practically new because a short time ago, everything was old, and it all quit working at the same time.
Appliances just don’t last as long as they used to. I read it on the internet so it must be true. I don’t know about electronics because they’re obsolete long before they quit working and sometimes before I’ve figured out how to use them.
I’m not sure how old my dishwasher is, but I do know it’s still sticky where the price tag used to be. Or maybe that’s not why it’s sticky. At any rate, I’ve had avocados that lasted longer.
I’m exaggerating. But if I have to replace my dishwasher, I will have loaded and unloaded four dishwashers while wearing the same bathrobe. Is it any wonder I’ve kept the robe? We’ve been through a lot together.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact [email protected])