When our dryer suffered an internal illness on Saturday night, it represented the confluence of two laws of nature, planned obsolescence and Murphy’s law.
The term planned obsolescence was coined in the 1950s by industrial designer Brooks Stevens. He defined it as “instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.”
The second term, Murphy’s Law, is pretty familiar to anyone who has ever owned a house. What that means is that your dryer will break the same week you need a new heat pump.
Our dryer is eight years old and a moderately priced model of a well-known brand name. I’m not quite ready to let it go to the Big Box Store in the Sky.
The dryer repairman laughed when I told him it was eight years old, and said that dryers generally last seven to 10 years. The price to repair the dryer is a third to half the cost of a new dryer.
What to do?
Our first dryer, purchased when moving to Evansville in 1988, lasted 16 years.
I must have a very sad life, because I wax philosophically about that dryer and the one my parents had which lasted decades.
When my parents brought my baby brother home from the hospital during winter 1960, I was 2 years old. Their dryer was broken at the time, and my father was in a hurry to get it repaired knowing the mountains of diapers that loomed in their future.
We drove home from the hospital, and Dad steered the old Chevy under the carport of our little yellow house. He promptly grabbed me and ran into the house to see how Mr. Vanderipe was coming along on the dryer repair. (You don’t forget a name like Vanderipe.)
Dad, however, forgot his wife and newborn son, still sitting in the car. One might question his priorities at that point, but I think I understand him.
So I’ve ordered a new part that cost less than a new dryer, and I’m playing the odds, which are clearly stacked against me, for a few more years out of that machine.