Lately I've become fascinated with objects that exist for a single task, and utterly fail in carrying it out.
Some things exist to perform multiple duties. My computer plays me music, shows me dirty pictures, and sends my emails, often simultaneously! My car takes me places, stores my old coffee cups and kills bugs, also simultaneously! Even my phone can call people and take terrible pictures, so that's two things. Items like these are complex, and I really don't understand how they work, but they usually do, and it's great!
So why is it then, that vastly simpler objects with a single purpose, like say, a can opener, can fail so completely in opening a can? When Girlfriend and I moved into our apartment this spring, we discovered that neither of us owned a can opener, due to both of us previously living with people who actually had their lives organized. No worries, we thought, as we popped down to the store and purchased a cheap but rugged-looking can opener. This should do the trick! Be free, fair beans, to be mixed with rice and put into burritos!
But what's this? The gears don't mesh when gripping the can? The blade does not cut the can, but just spins in place? But we paid almost two dollars! Okay, so we purchased the cheapest can opener in the store, but really, how expensive should such a simple machine be? I'm pretty sure, if given a few months to do it, I could build my own can opener. This is not true of say, my computer. Heck, I wouldn't even know where to begin. How do you make RAM?
Back I went to the store in search of a slightly more expensive can opener. I returned triumphant with a sleek black Farberware. It certainly looked fancier than the first no-name all metal opener. And voila! Like a dream it opened the cans! Smooth and slick and fast! It was a revelation. But then, after about twelve cans or so, the plastic handles began to bend inwards, and it could no longer find good purchase upon the lip of the cans. I'm not sure what the average lifespan of a can opener should be, but I do think "a dozen or so" is a little on the low end of expectations.
We can still open cans with our current opener, but not without a good deal of struggle. Should we just buy a new one? Probably, but it's the principle of the thing. I fear too that the epidemic is spreading. Earlier this summer I was at a friend's house for a few days, and their can opener didn't work either! It would grip the can just fine, but the gears would not spin! So to open a can involved a lengthy process of puncturing it with the round blade over and over.
So in conclusion, the quality of can openers seems to be on a rather precipitous downward trajectory. Something really should be done. I don't want to live in a world where I have only two choices: either spend more than five dollars for a can opener, or live with each tuna sandwich being a baffling ordeal.