A couple of weeks ago, I decided an overt expression of love for my wife of 32 years was in order. For months she’d been complaining about our $20 Costco toaster. Some of the elements were out; I’d had to repair the electromagnet that holds the toast down a couple of times, and my repairs are slapdash at best; the “eject” button had gotten smooshed in a fit of rage at some point.
I decided the thing to do to best express my undying love was to find the best toaster and buy it as an unexpected present to replace the accursed, damaged mechanical dud we’d put up with for all that time. Of course, the best toaster would come from the best kitchen store, Williams-Sonoma, and be outrageously expensive for a toaster. So, a little online research in the parking lot, a quick inspection of the display model in the store to confirm how gorgeous it looked, and I plonked down the more-than-3-figures amount and walked out with the Breville 2-Slice Diecast Smart Toaster. I wanted high-tech, beautiful and indestructible, so I bought Canadian. An aside: retail is hurting so much right now that Williams-Sonoma had a 20% just-for-the-hell-of-it sale; way less expensive than Amazon.
This toaster has a motor; you don’t push anything, you indicate you want the bread raised or lowered using the 5-button control panel. The panel includes a button labelled “A Bit More®”, so if you pop your toast up and decide you need, well, a bit more, there’s a button for that. There’s a button for doing Bagels, and a button for doing Frozen breads to “activate additional toasting time”. There’s a “Lift and Look®” button so you can check the status of the toast “without interrupting the toasting cycle” and to adjust the volume of the toast-ready alert. It’s built of die-cast aluminum, not cheap plastic. It has many, many levels of toastiness, selectable by an LED-illuminated analog slider.
This morning, I inserted two pieces of bread in the machine and selected the “Toast/Cancel” button, and felt a little flutter in my stomach as I watched the bread slide down into the toaster’s inards, as I have most days for the last two weeks. The LEDs gradually moved to the position indicating things were done. Then, the toaster issued a periodic click, but refused to raise the toast. After tapping the “Toast/Cancel” and “Lift and Look®” buttons a few times, I turned the unit upside down to retrieve the toast and set it back on the counter. It continued to click at me, and finally all the illuminated buttons started flashing.
I unplugged the toaster and plugged it back in (too many years of working with Windows-based computers). More clicking; more flashing. Images of flaming toasters spontaneously pushing their way into my consciousness.
Some research on the web led to finding someone else who had the same experience. They determined that a crumb somewhere was disabling the mechanism, and took care of the problem by dropping the front of the toaster precisely two inches to the counter. I disconnected the toaster, dropped it, reconnected it and voilá, the motor smoothly returned the toast “carriage” to its off position.
Canadian firmware at it’s finest. A potential hazard is detected (“there’s a crumb in the mechanism! It may not be safe to engage the motor!”) and disaster averted. And the fix is: drop the unit from a modest, Canadian-sized height.
My wife now finds me even more adorable than I was. Able to hear and act on her mild expressions of discontent without requiring specific instruction. Willing to spend ridiculous amounts to lavish upon her the pinnacle of modern kitchen engineering to ensure her morning toast is just the right brown-ness, and with the manly nonce to deal swiftly and decisively with the complexities that engineering injects into our life. I can’t wait to install the smart front door lock®.