woman blow drying hair

The day my hair dryer died

I don’t put much thought into how appliances operate. When I flip a light switch, open my refrigerator, or boot up my computer, I assume it will perform its primary function. I might research or at least read reviews when I replace a vacuum or toaster, but during day-to-day use, I simply expect them to work. If you’ve ever experienced a busted water heater, a dead car battery, or (heaven forbid) a cell phone dropped into the toilet, you know that some days this strategy works better than others. When the unexpected happens, I suddenly realize I take my gadgets for granted. (You can see my post about adjusting to a new washer/dryer here.)

An appliance I depend on daily is my blow dryer. Although I’d love to be one of those hot, sexy, I-woke-up-this-way women, my bedhead hair is best described as a “hot mess.” Coarse, straight, and highly opinionated, my hair stands at attention in the morning, at least on one side. The other side remains plastered flat to my forehead. No amount of fluffing helps, it must be convinced to behave with a shampoo and blow dry.

What happens if I (gasp) skip the dryer and let my locks air dry? Do I get just-gone-surfing-beach-babe waves? Never. I end up looking like a cartoon character who stuck her finger into a light socket. My bangs swoop in random directions. My obnoxious colic pokes out like a worn sofa spring. Worse yet, this is the only time my hair remains stubbornly in place. Gel, spray, or clips have no restorative effect. (Unlike the days when special effort is applied to achieve a look, only to have it wilt away within a few hours.) So, I must blow dry or hide the rat’s nest under a Seattle Mariner baseball cap.

A few days ago, I showered, shampooed, and proceeded to round brush my mane into submission. I had nearly convinced the left side to fall into alignment, when a loud bang exploded and the dryer stopped. I screamed. (I’m sure that’s not an unreasonable reaction. I also do that when I walk into a spider web.)

Had a light bulb broken? A quick glance reassured me that all the lights were intact.

Had the circuit breaker tripped? I pushed the reset switch on the outlet. The blowing of hot air did not resume.

I examined the silent appliance. Even though no longer running, it felt warm. Should I turn it back on? Would it catch fire and explode?

I noticed that the protective rubber coating on the cord had melted. Exposed wires dangled at the base of the handle. I decided it would be wise to unplug it.

Then a realization hit me. I had just witnessed (and participated in) the death of my blow dryer. The cord had literally exploded. I’m certainly no expert, but most of our convenient devices arrive with an expected life span and a limited warranty. Should I have paid more attention to the subtle signs of wear and tear? Had I worked it to exhaustion? Had my habit of wrapping the cord around the handle weakened the wires? Did a clogged filter block the airflow? Most importantly, how the heck would I dry my hair?

I admit a dead hair dryer is more of an inconvenience than an emergency. It could have been worse. Although I remember feeling a similar sense of panic on the day my hair stylist moved. (Replacement required ASAP!) I’m grateful for the properly installed circuit breaker outlet. Singed hair would have caused a catastrophic styling challenge. Other appliance incidents, such as an oven burnout followed by a month of microwaved meals, or a leaky water heater and some extremely COLD showers were much worse experiences. (You can trust me on that.)

It’s tempting to take appliances for granted, but if you notice a clank, clunk, or clatter, don’t wait to take action! Please excuse me, I need to find a hat and run to the store. NOW!

Do you have an appliance failure story? I’d love to read it. Leave a comment!

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