Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hung Out To Dry

When our twenty-year-old dryer punked out last month, I faced something of a conundrum.

On the one hand, I struggled for a bit with the idea that we even needed a dryer.  Our unfinished laundry room already had multiple clotheslines stretched under the ceiling, with enough room for nearly a week's worth of washing.  It takes a full day to get things dry that way, but it does work.

For one weekly wash, and for the next, that was how I rolled, and it was unsurprisingly effective.  Of course, some towels, for pointed instance...dried into hard boards, all of the fluffy softness replaced with a faintly abrasive surface.  My jeans were similarly rigid.  Despite the Laconic appeal of such things, there's just no way my wife was going to tolerate towels so rough they'd annoy a desert mystic.

That, and I knew that once we got into summer, that area of the house gets quite humid, to the point of requiring a dehuey to keep the space from becoming unbearably musty.  Eventually, stuff wouldn't dry down there.

So a dryer it was.  The challenge, though, was finding a dryer that was just a dryer.  Meaning, it tumbles clothes and blows dry, heated air through them as they tumble, and that's it.  Dryers really don't need to do anything else.

But almost every dryer out there was farkled out the wazoo.  Meaning, they were stuffed full of utterly pointless gimcrackery.  WiFi enabled and with downloadable app connectivity, with chipsets and control screens and dozens of other utterly irrelevant and pricey features.  I could check on my dryer anywhere on the planet!  Why would I want to do so?  What's the use-case for such a thing?  Gosh, say the designers, don't worry your pretty little head about that. 

Almost all dryers were like this.  I found one that wasn't, one that best I could tell...simply a rebadged version of the same decades-old unit that had finally given up the ghost.  No electronic controls, just knobs.  All mechanical.  There we go.  Just what I need.

But there was a challenge:  It wasn't in stock most places.  There were plenty of the overpriced doohickey-laden critters, all of which were selling for hundreds...and in some cases, over a thousand...more.  The most simple, most affordable, functional dryer?  Most places, it was backordered.  

Meaning, people want it.  Every one they make, people buy.  I found one, but it took time.

And here, I see something of a market failure.  Because profit maximization often requires that a manufacturer manufacture not just products, but demand.  And all one wants in an appliance is that it does its job.

Or so I'd think, but I suppose I'm peculiar.  Perhaps we'd all rather pay more for irrelevant features, pointless connectivity, and counterproductive overcomplication.  Perhaps we prefer having our actual needs ignored, and replaced with synthetic desires.

Perhaps we enjoy being hung out to dry.