Cambrian: Slice of Life

‘Revenge of the Things’: I continue to lose an ongoing battle with inanimate objects

Kathe Tanner
Kathe Tanner

There’s a strange piece of equipment in our home’s entryway.

Correction: The equipment itself isn’t strange, but its placement is. It’s more industrial than decorative, for sure.

It’s not supposed to be there.

But as surely as I’m clicking on my keyboard here, I’m not moving it again. Uh uh, no, nope, nyet. Not me.

That innocent-looking device is the latest in a long line of “things” that are out to get me. And they’re winning.

Things hate me. I’m the innocent victim of items that shouldn’t be in control, but are. It’s been that way my entire life.

My bitterly humorous senior thesis was about the animosity of inanimate objects, such as toasters that don’t, self-cleaning ovens that didn’t and frost-free refrigerators that aren’t. The thesis won a contest, and I got a $100 prize, but “The Revenge of Things” continued.

The attacks are insidious.

If I step on a throw rug or floor mat, it scoots away. Any pen I pick up is automatically out of ink. My car keys and reporter’s notebook vanish regularly as if propelled by mischievous leprechauns. My automatic stapler isn’t and doesn’t.

With absolutely no provocation, my car door will forcefully slam shut … on my foot. That door obviously took maleficent lessons from Big Daddy — our home’s oversized, super-heavy, solid walnut front door — which has done several unprovoked crunch jobs on my fingers.

Our rose bush and cacti jump out to gouge me. The knife leaps out of the drawer to attack my forefinger. An envelope slashes my finger or my tongue.

My phone will ring at 6:30 a.m., and when I stagger over to answer, nobody’s there or it’s a robocall. My stack of papers to file doubles overnight while I’m asleep (or trying to sleep), but the one document I really need is playing hide-and-seek.

I’m not even going to mention my computer and other digital devices. We already know they’ve taken control of our world.

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Is it any wonder that I really don’t want a home, car, refrigerator, camera or microwave oven (really?) that thinks it’s smarter than I am?

“Alexa, go away.”

I spend way too much time searching for items that obviously have moved themselves from where I absolutely know I put them. Me put them in the wrong place? Please! I’m insulted.

The leftovers I know I put right there in the fridge are hiding, not to be found until they’ve turned green and fuzzy in our backup fridge in the garage. I absolutely did not put them there.

My car moves itself from one side of a parking lot to another while I’m in the store buying bok choy, Fig Newtons and toothpaste.

When I go from one room to another to pick up an item or do a chore, six or seven other out-of-place items make themselves so blatantly obvious, I have to either deal with them then or make mental note to do so later. By the time I get where I was going originally, I forgot why I went there. And remember the mental list of all those things I was going to write down? Not a chance, Charlie.

Some things have a nasty sense of humor, like the worrisome squeak or drip or buzz that stops as soon as I get within 3 feet of it.

It’s like chasing a cricket.

And then there are the things with truly malicious intent. Have you ever been attacked by a mutant device?

I have.

Remember that gadget in my front hall? It’s a computer printer, sent to me by the corporate home office. Our IT person put it into my van.

I hadn’t yet figured out where in my postage-stamp-sized work space the printer might fit, so I decided to put it in the entryway for a day or so. Yeah, sure.

When I picked up the machine, it was much heavier than I expected it would be. It was a laser printer, you see, not an ink-jet.

My shoulder rebelled.

I swear I could hear the printer chuckling quietly while I clutched my arm and shrieked.

Now, months later, after numerous visits to various doctors, x-rays, an MRI, physical therapy and the threat of surgery, I swear I can still hear soft laughter from the front hall.

The printer’s revenge is complete.

Things hate me.

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