They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

A horribly beautiful, terrible but remarkable, and yet pretty amazing thing happened last week: our water heater died. One may well ask, “how can the death of a water heater conjure so many adjectives in one sentence?” Of course, one (or even two) may not ask that at all. I mean who really cares, right? Water heaters croak… new ones are only guaranteed for 6 years and are expected to last for maybe 10 to 15 years.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we knew our 80 gallon Hotpoint water heater was old when we bought the house way back in 1982. This was when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people communicated over long distances with tin cans connected with string. What we didn’t know until this past Monday was that our trusty old water heater was built in 1952!!! I mean, this thing was born before us!! Sixty-five years ago!! I told the installer, “hey maybe we should keep it, it’s eligible for Medicare!!” One friend on that BookFace thing on the interwebs said it might be a world record for water heater longevity.

As I watched the poor “kids” (when you’re in your 60s, “kids” are anyone 30 years old or less) haul the disconnected monster out of the basement, I couldn’t help but reflect on the throw-away world we’ve built around us. Too many things have obsolescence built into them; because hey, business depends on sales, and sales don’t happen when things last forever. That may be good for sales but it’s not very good for our planet.

However, I do know from experience that there are a few companies on this planet who make things that last a long time; but in my professional opinion those are few and far between. Toyota is one of those companies. They believe that business should be sustainable; not just growth oriented. Toyota makes some of the longest lasting cars on the road; and that’s what brings customers back. They certainly sold me; the 2003 Corolla I bought brand new has well over 300,000 miles on it. We don’t know how many miles it’s gone exactly, because a factory defect for that model year prevents the speedometer from going any farther than 299,999 miles. The body is still in very good shape, and it runs like brand new.

Lots of folks chase the newest, shiniest toys: cell phones, cars, TVs, etc. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I are happy to live in the Stone Age with our old cars, landline phone, and antenna TV. So basically we are weirdos; and we like it. Our favorite thing about all our stuff is that we own it. We have zero debt. Nada. Zip. Nibbit. Blazoo. Well OK those last two “words” aren’t words, but as I said, we are weirdos. So now if my Honey Pie is reading this I’m gonna get in trouble; so let me clarify: she’s very practical and I’m the weirdo. After all, I’m the one who makes up silly words and flings them out on the interwebs for all to see.

I rather doubt this new water heater will last 65 years. Maybe, just maybe, it will outlive us; but I’m not counting on it. No, they just don’t make ’em like they used to… and sometimes that’s a good thing. They don’t make music like they used to either… and now it’s time for me to share some of my favorite “oldies” with you.