One day I found myself standing in the small appliance aisle at Target shopping for an electric can-opener. We needed a new one (again) because Miss Cathy had gone through two since I’d moved in-not mention the two hand-held can-openers she’d also broken.
The latest malfunction occurred when she tried to open a can with a flip top lid. I was in my room working when I heard a horrific noise (it sounded like a couple of drunken cats singing through auto-tune). At first I ignored it but couldn’t the second time and went into the kitchen to investigate.
When I entered the room there she was, standing with the mutilated (and unopened) can in one hand and a perplexed expression on her face. I took the can from her, pulled the flip top lid and poured the contents into the waiting saucepan on the stove top.
“You can’t try to open cans with the electric can opener that already have a flip top,” I explained to her. “See, it’s even got a graphic on the top of the can. It’s a drawing of an opener inside a red circle with a line drawn through it to tell you not to use a can opener.””
“Oh, is that what that is” she said unfazed, stirring the sauce with a wood spoon,” I couldn’t tell what the was without my reading glasses on.”
“Well, that’s it for this can-opener.” I said as I unplugged it and threw it in the garbage can before going back to work in my room.
So, that’s how I came to be standing in this century’s version of “Woolworth’s” about to pay another $25.00 for a small kitchen appliance that had about as much chance of seeing in the New Year as an open bottle of good champagne.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I found myself putting the Hamilton Beach product back on the shelf, leaving the store and driving to one of the second-hand stores that I scavenge for the occasional mid-century piece of furniture or object d’art.
It’d dawned on me standing at the register in Target that I’d spent about $75.00 on electric can openers since I’d moved here over a year ago (and I’d yet to replace the skillets and saucepans that Miss Cathy had decimated-usually by forgetting that the burner was on high and walking away, scorching the pan-not to mention burning whatever was in it. And there was the ruined Teflon surfaces that she’d scratched up using silverware or other metal to stir or turn the food in the pans).
I’d realized that it was getting pretty expensive to replace things around the apartment and if I’m here for the marathon I’d have to pace myself financially to go the distance.
The appliances, the cookware…. the telephone, it was all just more collateral damage of the disease.
That day in Target I’d come to realize that places like the Goodwill, Valu Village and other second-hand stores are gold mines for the things that I needed as well as the fun things that I wanted.
Why pay retail for things you know your loved one with dementia are going to break (eventually-but not intentionally) when there is a low-cost alternative for those with a discerning eye.
Of course one would have to be very selective about the things they bought but I’ve gotta say, a lot of the second-hand stores have merchandise that’s in very good condition and some even have brand new items from stores that are over-stock that they sell at a greatly reduced price.
I suggest finding second-hand and thrift stores in/around or near upscale neighborhoods (their cast-offs are usually always of a higher quality than those of people on lower-income brackets).
For example, instead of paying $20 to $35 dollars for a new can opener I bought one (that had been “gently used”) for $6.00 (and it was a Hamilton Beach appliance) and it works great. I got the same bargains for the cookware, too. I paid $5 and $10 dollars for pans that would easily cost $50.00 or more at Macy’s.
The way I see it, Miss Cathy still deserves the best-I’m just giving her the best that someone else had purchased first.
So now she can break and burn with abandon (because we all know it’s just a matter of time before it happens again) and the can-opener’s days are numbered but I don’t have to worry about counting because I know where to get a quality back up cheap.