There are 3 pieces to understand as background before I launch into the rest of the tale.
1) I am the sort of person who tries to pay attention and learn things from my life. Some things I have learned, others have taken me an abysmally long time to learn, and still more, I clearly haven’t gotten yet.
2) I was raised on the school that says there are everyday things, and then there are “good” things which are to be stored away and rarely, if ever used. This way of thinking was thoroughly drilled into me. “Good enough,” patched, and mediocre described the stuff that should make up everyday living. It’s taken me a very long time to challenge and replace these beliefs, and it continues.
3) I am wild about popcorn and eat a lot of stove-popped corn. My favorite popper for many years has been Wabash Valley Farms Whirley Pop©. These poppers have traditionally not been cheap, and I was fortunate to initially receive one as a gift. I wore that thing into the ground. I replaced that with a second and at some level noticed it wasn’t quite the same. It still made brilliant popcorn but the pan dented more easily and looked shabby sooner.
The Main Story:
A few (3?) years ago I had what I considered the magnificent fortune to land an unused Whirley Pop from Freecycle. I carefully put it away to “save” it. I wasn’t going to hop onto a brand new one just because I had it, no sir. I needed to get full use out of the one I had first.
So comes the day recently when I decided it was time for the new one. I put the old one out in recycling and away it went. I was going to use the nice one saved for “good!” I deserved the new one now, I told myself.
First thing I noticed when I removed the popper pan from the bag it was stored in, was that one of the little wood knobs on the lid was cracked. How had I not noticed this before? Had it happened while it as in storage? Cracked wood usually suggests cheap wood to me. The wood parts on my old poppers had always been fine, as had the basic turn-crank mechanisms. And then there was that; I started using my popper but something seemed amiss. The popcorn wasn’t as good. I examined the popper and one of the two metal wires that spin the popcorn wasn’t even close to the bottom of the pan. Surely it was just traveling over the top of the kernels. Scorching on the bottom of my nice, new pan seemed to indicate the same. Inferior was the word that kept coming to mind.
Then the cracked wood knob broke completely in two and fell off. It could not be repaired nor did I see a simple way to jury-rig a replacement. This knob is how you open the lid when the popping is done without giving yourself second-degree burns on the hot pan. I tried to work without it but its absence irritated me.
I went online and looked at recent reviews of the popper. Many people wrote of a change in quality from earlier versions they’d owned. They said the popper was flimsier (some mentioned “aluminum foil”) and dented more easily. They said the turning gears broke. Hmmm. Sometimes I can be a little slow to grasp points like this; I think something represented as a product, sold as the same thing, is just the same as it’s always been, even in face of evidence to the contrary. My mind will even make strange, compensatory leaps to account for failings in an item. (I even briefly blamed my poor, innocent, great-as-always Jolly Time© popcorn, even though I was still popping kernels from the same bag that had been fine with the dearly departed popper.)
Boy, did I feel gypped! Here I had carefully saved the fresh, unused popper for “good” and unbeknownst to me it was junky. Just sitting there quietly waiting to be junky. Now, I’m not saying ALL the Whirley Pop© poppers must be this way but I’m certain this one is not as good as the first one I ever owned. And it’s not as good as the one I sent off to the recycling graveyard. And THAT was another mistake. Never get rid of the old but still serviceable thing till you try out the new thing. I know this! I SHOULD know this!! Why don’t I know this?!
So. If this isn’t a good kick in the head to reconsider my saving-for-good philosophy – a solidly direct message that supposedly good things aren’t even necessarily so or if they were, may turn to crud while they wile away the years unused – I’m not sure what is. And should I ever let go of a serviceable item before making sure its replacement is okay, I expect I’ll deserve whatever results. And my popping situation? I bought a new popper, a different brand. It was time. We will see. Lesson(s) learned. Oh I hope so.