few months ago, I was debating whether or not I was losing my
mind. It was half serious… half fun… and involved a cup of coffee.
not coffee. More to the true point, I was kicking around the thoughts
of things we all do but forget we’ve done, specifically the things
we tend to put away and forget about.
talked about using the last of something in the fridge, then going
back for some the next day only to find there wasn’t any. I talked
about heading out to the store for one specific item, and then
returning with all sorts of different things but not the one that
prompted the errand. I talked about hiding the things you use
less frequently in a strange system of storage based on frequency
yeah… as I struggled to remember things and find things. I wondered
if I was losing my mind.
I need to change the oil on my lawn mower, and I’ve discovered
it isn’t me. Nope. It’s the gosh darn manufacturers messing with
have a ride on mower at the house. Pretty standard piece of equipment.
Good piece of equipment. Reliable. I love it. About the only really
extra special part is the leaf bagger I got for it. That makes
Because our old house was surrounded by oak trees. I mean, surrounded.
Big… old… dozens upon dozens of them… hundreds of millions of
leaves. And even if I had this wonderful piece of machinery when
we lived in that house, I doubt if cleaning up the leaves every
year would have been any easier. Really. That many leaves. Back
to our story…)
weird thing about this mower involves oil. The design set up for
you to access the drain during the process of changing the oil
is nutty. For reasons that simply defy any and all possible explanations
I have ever sought, encountered, discussed and experienced, the
manufacturer provides a tube that needs to be attached to the
drain spout. Use the tube, or, big mess.
I admit I’m kind of simplifying things a bit. As most people will
tell you, we’ve reached a point where snow blowers, lawn mowers,
any yard equipment requiring an engine… the brand on the body
of the thing may change, the colors and designs may differ, but
they almost all use an engine created by the same one or two companies.
So, this oil drain tube thing is not exactly an unusual circumstance.
Several names and models offer it up.
tricky part is how often you need it. Once a season? After every
50 or so hours of use? Whatever… it is NOT like the replacement
line you keep around for your lawn trimmer. You don’t need the
tube each and every time you pull the mower out of the shed.
reasons that will surprise no one, I can’t find mine as this year’s
season of lawn care begins. I want to change the oil. I don’t
want to make a ridiculous mess. But that’s not the part that’s
driving me bonkers. No. The blinding headache is being created
because I can’t for the life of me figure out why this entire
obstacle couldn’t have been avoided. I mean…
~ What the heck are companies thinking designing things like this?
Seriously if you are going to design things with a side panel
that needs to be removed in order to even access the drain valve
— and actually, design two removable side panels, since the one
on the other side needs to be taken off to replace the oil filter
— I don’t think it’s a reach for someone to come up with some
way of designing things to line up a container to catch the oil
without needing to add a plastic hose.
~ Yes, yes, fine, I admit that my organization skills could be
better. Why the heck the tube isn’t on the shelf next to all the
other stuff I use with that lawn mower eludes me. My bad. But…
here’s the crazy thing… no one carries the damn piece! Wouldn’t
you think that: (1) if you bought a lawn mower from a home improvement
store, (2) that same store… the exact same store… has the blades
and batteries and so on for every other conceivable maintenance
project on the unit, not to mention more specifically they stock
the oil, oil filter, and even wrench for taking off the oil filter
if you want one of those, that (3) they might stock the drainage
tube (or be able to tell you what to use as an alternative because
they don’t)? I think that’s sensible. (Again, I suppose, my bad.
Since home improvement stores honestly never carry the replacement
parts you need for equipment you bought there.)
we eventually arrive is that it isn’t me… or you… or any of us.
It is, in fact, them. It is a planned, created, designed and manufactured
process specifically organized even with the knowledge that in
the end: it’s silly, it could be done better, and the buyer is
going to be frustrated about it.
isn’t about my storing it in a spot and then forgetting it because
I haven’t needed it in a while. This isn’t about me (or someone
in the house) accidentally throwing it away because we can’t remember
why it’s needed. The only place where I am to blame is in letting
it be a surprise.
snow blower I have needs sheer pins. Anyone want to guess if the
home improvement store stocks them? Of course they don’t. But…
yes… they do still sell that brand of snow blowers.
a great reason for charcoal over gas? That grill I have needs
burners. Same grill company is offered by that home improvement
store, with the latest models proudly on display on the floor
in the seasonal items area. But in an unbelievable demonstration
that manages to defy any and all odds, somehow the company redesigns
their burners again and again and again, and the replacement tube
style I need is never on the shelf.
almost as if this moves beyond losing my mind into some masterful
attempt at planned obsolescence.
years ago, I walked into an auto body repair shop. Owner went
to school with my father. Knew him fairly well. I needed a taillight
lens. Nothing spectacular. Nothing complicated. It led to a conversation
about how expensive some auto body parts could be, especially
compared to other auto body parts. Simple explanation: glass breaks,
and if too expensive to replace the glass is broken and still
needs to be replaced… metal bends, and if too expensive to replace
an owner will attempt to smooth and won’t replace… charge a lot
for glass, not as much for metal.
that theory along for a ride… they know we need sheer pins… they
know we need grill burners… they know we need oil drainage tubes.
And, they know we’ll pay a few extra dollars than we should to
get them. Warped twist of the idea, resulting in an expected obsolescence
not losing my mind. It isn’t me. The only problem with understanding
this is that once I unpacked that tube for the first time I should
have realized it would work out this way.