It seems that everything from shoestrings to refrigerators has been designed to self-destruct. What has happened to the quality of American goods?

Do the manufacturers think we have not noticed the rising prices, shrinking packages, and decline in quality? No manufacturer would stoop to such dishonest and unethical practice, would they? Hah!

Let’s start with the small stuff. Have you noticed what they have done to bar soap? The brand I have bought for years used to last through weeks of daily showers. Recently I have noticed that after a few days it dissolves into a puddle of gelatinous goop in the soap dish. In the near future, I suspect it will not last through a single shower.

I will start my shower by washing my face with a thick new bar. By the time I reach my waist at mid-shower, it will have diminished to a mere sliver. By the time I get to my toes, it will have vanished without a trace, leaving me to wonder: Has it slipped down the drain or have I lost it in a wrinkled crease of this senior body? The next day when I am in the middle of a presentation to my boss, will I begin to emit soap bubbles from any of a number of bodily orifices?

Let’s move on to another pet peeve of poor quality. Lately, I have become incensed by the poor quality of the last box of toothpicks I purchased. Aren’t toothpicks defined as sharpened slivers of wood designed to dislodge food particles from between the teeth? Not the broad, flat pointless slabs in this package.

They aren’t toothpicks; they are kindling, fireplace logs, Louisville Sluggers. They could dislodge a rump roast from the gap of a professional hockey player’s smile. 

When I finally force one between my teeth, it invariably breaks off and becomes wedged in a highly visible location. My smile then consists of rows of wood fragments, tinted with the blood seeping from my lips, which have been shredded by the ragged ends.

As a result, I have to see my tree surgeon once a year to check for Dutch Elm Disease and to remove the toothpick remnants. Just two more visits and I will have enough lumber to build that entertainment center I have always wanted.

Cans of paint now are a few ounces shy of a gallon. One-pound cans of vegetables now weigh 14 ounces. One-pound packages of cookies now weigh only 10 ounces. Once they started messing with my cookie quantities, they pushed my last button. I am not going to put up with that.

Let’s move on to the bigger stuff, like furniture.

A couple of years ago, I bought a new rocker/recliner. It is the worst furniture purchase I ever made. Whenever anyone sits in it, it groans loudly, as if in complaint, which I consider a comment on my weight and a personal insult. Rocking is accompanied by a shrill “squeak, squeak, squeak.”

Also, it is impossible to sit upright in it. As soon as I sit in it and lean against its back, I am launched abruptly backward into a position which would be useful for dental surgery or a gynecological exam. To anyone else in the room, my face is now obscured by the soles of my shoes. This is not conducive to the conversation unless I happen to be talking to a cobbler (the shoemaker; not the dessert). Now that that thought has entered my mind, excuse me for a moment. I think there is some leftover peach cobbler in the fridge.

Ok, I am back. Every couple of months I find another screw or bolt on the floor under the recliner. It appears that it is dismantling itself one piece at a time.

A couple of years ago I ordered a new washing machine from one of the nation’s largest retailers. I was astounded when the salesman asked, “Do you want an electric cord with that? They cost an extra $29.95.”

“Of course I want the cord! Do you know what a washing machine without a cord is? Its a very expensive dirty-clothes hamper. Do you think the clothing will get clean via osmosis?”

Dryers no longer come with vent kits and vacuum cleaners no longer come equipped with attachments or accessories.

I went to a hardware store to buy a ceiling fan with light fixtures, only to be told that it did not include the glass globes, the pull chain, or the ceramic knob. The next fan I buy probably will consist of just five simulated- wood fan blades and a meter, so they can charge me extra for the air it will blow.

The last time I bought tires for the car, I was charged extra for the valve stems. I thought it was a joke. I guess if the tire pressure got too low, I was supposed to reinflate it using a nail file and a drinking straw. Who do I look like: McGiver? (You young readers will have to Google that).

Every purchased product should come equipped with any parts integral to its operation. Anything less is a rip-off.

One local tire chain got smart and advertized, “On the rim and out the door! No extra charges!”

The competitor in town responded with, “We don’t waste your time by giving you free services you may not want or need.”

Guess what, guys? You can waste my time by giving me all the free services you want, whether I need them or not. As a matter of fact, my lawn needs mowing, my garage needs painting, and I could use a haircut and color. Go ahead; make my day.


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