Someone who knew Jackie Gleason once
saw him butter up a piece of white toast, bite in and say,
"Now, THAT's living."
Gleason was right.
You can buy happiness.
My happiness just happens to pop out of a brand new Sunbeam
I live in the world's
second tiniest apartment. The only toaster that didn't seek
dominion over my entire kitchen counter was this small, in-line
toaster I had for years. Instead of the toast sitting side by side,
the slices sat end to end. And the toaster sat conveniently up
against the wall. All was good in the kitchen.
quit working. First it started misbehaving. It would pop up
only half way, but keep toasting.
I had bread in the toaster, I'd hear the smoke alarm wailing and
find my kitchen filled with acrid black smoke. It wasn't nuthin'
Eventually I decided to
repair it. Problem was, the plastic knob on the plunger wouldn't
come off, and you can't take the case off until the plunger knob is
off. Eventually, figuring the toaster was completely worthless
unrepaired, I applied an adequate amount of pressure to the knob.
It broke. The case came off, voila.
I can live without a
plastic knob, but no amount of bending metal tabs, stretching
springs and so forth would make this toaster work again. I could
get it to pop up half way, but not all the way. Some key pieces of
metal were simply worn, and short of TiG welding some additional
metal onto them, the unit was beyond repair.
You don't TiG weld
toasters. That would be like killing houseflies with a
There HAD to be a way to
make this thing work. I messed with it for at least two hours
before finally giving up, gathering up the parts and hauling them
to the dumpster.
I felt like I had
failed. A simple toaster, and I couldn't fix it or couldn't figure
out how to fix it. When you fail, you can never be sure which it
My faith in God,
however, is infinite, and the next day I saw an even newer inline
toaster sitting on a shelf at a thrift store for $6. Computer
controlled, no less. Moving up in the world.
So naturally, I was
doubly disappointed when I discovered this toaster, this "Computer
Controlled" toaster, didn't work any better than the last one,
despite the little masking tape sticker from the thrift store that
said "Works" stuck on it. Obviously, they hadn't bothered to
actually put a piece of toast in it. I think I saw flames leaping
off the pair of sacrificial end pieces I'd stuck in it before I
yanked the cord out of the wall.
But I'm an electrical
engineer, you see. If anyone should be able to diagnose and repair
a computer-controlled toaster, it should be me. I used to design
computer chips. I can solder. Ain't nothing gettin' past me this
Most toasters, you see,
have some little adjustment dial inside. If the toast always comes
out too dark, you can turn the little adjusting screw inside the
thing so that "4" on the outside dial is now what "2" used to give
you. Most ovens, refrigerators air conditioners, irons, everything
else with a thermostat works the same way. Buried somewhere is this
little adjustment dial if you can only get to it, you can make
people think you're a genius.
But not on a
computer-controlled toaster. It had a thermistor, a little
two-legged thingey to measure temperature, sticking into a hole in
the "oven" part of the toaster. It didn't seem to be sticking far
enough into the hot section. So the computer never thought the
toast was done and never popped it up. End result: smoke, wailing
siren, toast flambeau.
Out comes the trusty
soldering iron, and I reposition the sensor closer to the "hot
section." Toaster still doesn't work. I inspect the circuit board
for loose wires, touch up a few questionable looking solder joints.
Still doesn't work. No burned up components, no smell of fried
capacitors or resistors on the circuit board, no apparent visual
damage. So it's probably the computer chip itself that got
And that's not something
that can be fixed.
Out to the garbage can.
Another horrible blow to the ego of a male who thinks he can fix
Two inline toasters, two
duds in a row. God must be mad at me. And that loaf of bread is
getting stiffer by the day.
But, I get an idea. This
computer-controlled inline toaster was made by Sunbeam, and must be
relatively new. Maybe they still make 'em. I get on Amazon, and
Voila, here's a slightly newer model, only $44.
By this time I figure
I've spent enough time screwing around inside toasters, and I would
rather have a real life, so I get out my priceless piece of plastic
and hey, God really does love me! Some woman won one of these
toasters in a contest, (they used to give 'em away when you opened
checking accounts, but I guess that's gone the way of full-service
gas) and I can get it BRAND NEW, through Amazon, for only $22 with
It arrives three days
later. Durn big box, I notice.
Then I realize. It's a
durn big toaster.
Unwrapping it, I realize
it's the size of a small battleship. It's an inline configuration
alright, just like the illustration, but it's a four-slicer, not a
two-slicer. Either I didn't look at the picture carefully enough,
the woman sent me a different model, who knows. I'm not going to go
back and see who screwed up, since there's a 50 percent chance it
was me, and even if it wasn't, I'm sure as hell not gonna ship this
toaster back to Oklahoma, no way.
By this point, all I
want is toast. Warm white toast with butter. To live again. I stick
in a piece of stale bread, which is all I ever seem to have around
this shotgun shack.
A minute later I'm in
But what makes this
toaster super special is bagel mode, where it browns the cut side
of the bagel more than the outside. After toasting, and eating my
first bagel, I realize God really, really loves me.
So I've surrendered half
my miniscule kitchen counter to a toaster the size of the USS
Yorktown. But I no longer care.
Happiness is a warm