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The Day the Music Died

I love my little apartment in the redwoods, even with the occasional electrical glitch. Last week I ran the space heater, turned on the electric kettle and then ran off to blow dry my hair. This trifecta doesn’t happen often, but when it does I have to go around to the other side of my landlord’s home and flip a few breaker switches to turn the power back on. I only need to flip one, but I always forget which. Each time, as well as when the power goes out for any other reason, my stereo comes on blasting loud static once power is restored.

Until last week. There was no loud static when the power returned. I didn’t think about it until I decided to play a CD while I vacuumed. Yeah, it’s a thing. I was anticipating Mustang Sally by the Commitments. Turns out, my last dance with electrical inadequacies toasted a 25 year old stereo system. All the ensuing button pressing didn’t make a difference.

Frankly, I was more disturbed at the age of the stereo than its actual demise. Where did those 25 years go? Why can’t things last forever? Have I really not updated my music system in 25 years? What else can I put under my TV to raise it up to the proper height?

I knew this was coming. A few years ago, I lost my beloved cassette player. I wasn’t playing cassettes much anymore and only had a few favorites. I put one of them into side A and pressed “play.” Nothing. The tape was now stuck in a broken player. No problem. I still had Cassette side B so found my other most favorite tape, put it in, and pressed play.

With my two favorite tapes now stuck in the machine, I had created a very large paper weight. I took it to electronic waste. I put my 36, no, 34 favorite cassette tapes into my next yard sale and sold them to a fellow I knew had no way to play them either.

All this made me think again about how easily we acquire things and how much waste we create when we finally have to let them go. I went from simply wanting to vacuum with the music blaring to having to decide what to do with a stereo receiver, CD player, two speakers and their stands.

If anyone has someone who still repairs such things, please let me know. On the other hand, letting go of these pieces of my past would create a more spacious feel in my tiny place, right?

I have held out against buying those tiny powerful speakers which sync to computers, phones, door knobs, and what have you. I am adverse to buying music online, but can’t tell you why. I don’t want any of the voice activated gismos to answer all my questions (what is her name, Stella? Stella!!! Oh. Right. Alexa!) It feels like cheating.

When I was younger, I invented an 800 number to call and ask questions whenever my brothers and I got into ridiculous arguments. Dialing an 800 number seemed like the best way to get an outside voice of reason with just the right amount of effort. To be clear, I invented the concept, not the actual number.

I should be more digitally and electronically competent, but I don’t feel like it. Besides, nothing will ever replace the satisfaction I felt introducing my nieces to the Butterball Hotline last Thanksgiving. They needed to know that old school works just fine for some things. It was with great amusement and satisfaction that I watched their amazement as they discovered that a real person would answer a real phone and tell you what to do with your real turkey. Take that Alexa.

Maggie Kraft is a Senior Move Manager® and the owner of Kraft Transitions.

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