Feast your eyes on this baby. Ain’t it a beaut? With its brushed stainless steel finish, cool blue LED display lights and “advanced Toast Technology,” it's just about the spaciest kitchen appliance this side of Star Trek.
The enclosed material, however, gave me pause. Right there on page 1 of the User Manual were those intimidating words READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE USE. This presented difficulties, as not only are there 22 pages of instructions, but 16 of those aren’t even in English. Sure, you say, I could read the ones that say Francais and Espanol anyway, but since I wouldn't have a clue what they said, what tasty tidbits of toasterology might I be missing?
Luckily, my next door neighbor, wise beyond her years in such matters, pointed out that the French and Spanish pages are likely just translations of the English. Whew! But this presented new concerns. Why, I had to know, did the English version occupy a mere six pages, while the other languages each got eight? Was the manufacturer withholding certain details from us English types, perhaps, or, on a more disturbing level, did they think those non-English speakers so technologically challenged that they required two whole extra pages to operate a fricking toaster?
Then I chanced to recall my most recent airline experience, which included two long layovers in lovely George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Every sort of sign and instruction, I noticed, from KEEP SEATBELTS FASTENED to NO FIREARMS PERMITTED BEYOND THIS POINT, blatted at me in both English and Spanish. And in every case, the Spanish versions contained significantly more words and syllables. Could that be the secret of the extra two pages? That it just plain takes longer to say something in these so-called Romance Languages? Maybe so. On the other hand, on the off-chance they’re really more romantic, maybe those extra pages of instructions would make me fall even deeper in love with my toaster.
Anyway, this extraneous cogitation behind me, I finally proceeded to read the English version. And right away made a disturbing discovery. “Do not operate or place the toaster,” it said, “in a heated oven or microwave oven.” Sheesh! If they’re going to place limitations like that on their product, what good is it? Alarmed, I scrutinized every other word of the instructions. And was somewhat mollified. Nowhere did they say I couldn't operate my new toaster while riding my bicycle, or inside the refrigerator, or in the washing machine, or anywhere else.
I can’t wait to fire this baby up and enjoy hot frozen waffles with my bubble bath.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, R. I. P.
3 hours ago