The Secret Organization of Inanimate Objects

Dear Will:

I have this theory that the seemingly inanimate objects around us are not inanimate at all. In fact, I believe they’re all part of a super-secret syndicate of people-haters. I can’t prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I think there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to suggest that they talk about us behind our backs and even have clandestine meetings while we’re asleep. That they’re out to get us there can be no doubt.

Exhibit A: The Whirlpool Dishwasher, a perfectly serviceable unit which has served us unfailingly for years. Recently it started leaking—almost imperceptibly—enough that you couldn’t ignore it but not so much that we felt compelled to do anything but wipe it up, like sweat from the basketball court after two players tangle fighting for the rebound.

Big mistake. That little puddle was the opening salvo, a shot across the family bow to warn us of potential misery to come. “Give me some love and attention,” the Whirlpool was saying, “or else.” That was it: our momentary opportunity to appease the syndicate with elbow grease, frustration, and several wasted trips to Home Depot. And when we failed to show sufficient care or interest, when we didn’t take things seriously enough, the dishwasher activated the Secret Organization of Inanimate Objects (SOIO) and declared war.

A couple months after it piddled on the kitchen tile, Whirly let loose with a smoke-bomb that stunk up the whole house. The circuit board was completely fried. Next thing I knew I was online researching dishwashers and spending several hundred dollars on a replacement. I even had to reshape the opening under the kitchen counter to accommodate the new one. The war had begun.

So was I surprised last night when my wife’s aging computer refused to boot up properly? Not in the least. Such is the typical escalation of unscheduled expenditures that SOIO unleashes. (They don’t call it SO-I-Owe for nothing, right?) My wife is at the Apple Store right now spending hundreds more that we do not have. All because I was inattentive to the needs of a dishwasher.

Here’s the problem—and it’s a HUGE problem. In my experience, the out-of-budget spending that comes as a consequence of appliance warfare always come in threes. Always. It’s as if that particular stratagem is codified within the SOIO equivalent of The Art of War. These are always the circumstances in which we discover a slab leak or a broken timing belt, when the roof has to be rebuilt or the water heater explodes. Guaranteed. So I’ll be awake into the night worrying about what’s next.

Unfortunately, I know going into it that the next breakdown won’t be the toaster oven. Oh, no. These things always get MORE expensive as they progress. In that sense, the busted computer is supposed to be the THIRD thing, not the second. But it IS the second—which is why I’ve never dreaded a SOIO onslaught more than this one. What’s more expensive than a computer?

Well, put it this way. I’m afraid it may be time to start walking to work.


Jesus said: Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?  or, What shall we drink?  or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:25 – 33)

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