My daughter called me at work: “I think you are getting that new stove for the kitchen. I turned on a burner and sparks shot halfway across the room. It was like the Fourth of July.”
“Did it burn the new floor?” I asked. After I found out the new floor was not damaged, I remembered to ask about her. A new kitchen range has been on my wish list for a long while, but I had not intended to buy one today.
“Do the other burners still work?” I asked.
“I don’t think so; I turned it off but the red light is still on and I hear a clicking noise. I’m not going to touch that thing.”
“Can you unplug it?”
“I’m afraid to pull it out from the wall. Besides, I have to go to the dentist in an hour.”
“I considered whether to call 911 or let the house burn down.”
“Maybe you could turn off the switch at the electric box?” I asked.
“That’s a good idea,” my daughter agreed.
That took care of the immediate problem. And since I’ll be shopping for a new stove tonight, I won’t need to cook anyhow.
The stove is 25 years old. It doesn’t match my newer appliances, which have replaced the old ones that are passing away one by one: dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, stove, falling like dominos.
When I arrived home that night, I decided the stove was definitely not worth fixing. It had cooperated nicely with my desire for a new stove, becoming a “need” instead of a “want.”
Rows and rows of shiny stainless steel ranges greeted me at the appliance store. I found out they are called ranges – not stoves. I really need to get out more. Ranges have changed a lot since I shopped for one. They no longer have burners, they have electric cook tops.
We went down the row, checking out the features on each one. What’s a convection oven? What kind of self-cleaning oven? Do I really need an automatic timer? Finally, I found it, the range of my dreams. It had no knobs just a touch pad like a microwave.
The salesman reduced this charge and lowered that charge as an incentive to convince me to buy. He didn’t know my old stove was spouting fireworks like a volcano. “Free delivery,” he promised, and “We will haul off the old clinker.”
The new range arrived three days later. There was some sort of mix-up on the delivery date, but I like to eat out anyhow.
It looked beautiful in my kitchen in the spot vacated by the range from hell’s kitchen.
Then fear gripped me. What have I done? How do I run this thing? “It has a dashboard like a rocket ship,” observed my daughter. It beeped at me and dared me to punch its lights out.
I’ll read the manual, I decided. The manual will tell me how to control it. “Estufa electrica,” said the manual. Whoops, Spanish, wrong section.
I turned it over to the English Guide for Idiots. “Do not touch surface units when hot,” “Do not use as cutting board.” “Do not place plastic items on cook top.” It had more about preventing damage than it did about cooking.
Finally, I found the part about how to turn it on and off and how to set the cooking temperature on the oven. I also found out the new stove is bi-lingual. It speaks both fahrenheit and centigrade. I only speak fahrenheit myself.
Surely if I can use an iPhone, I can run this thing, I thought. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use a cooking stove.
If you read in the newspaper about a woman in Tennessee who was the first to put an electric range into orbit, that will be me. To tell the truth, I was only trying to cook supper.
Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss