“Piece of junk!” I cry, as the smell of burning bread fills the room. I hear the sizzling satisfaction from the toaster, mocking me.
I just put it in a second ago.
Sure enough, when I press the eject button, two charred pieces of bread pop out with an indignant “Humph.”
“What did I ever do to you?” I protest, laying the blackened bread on the growing pile of burnt toast in the bin. The toaster stares back at me, quiet, calculating.
“Dude stop burning bread,” Peter grumbles, sliding into the room with a yawn. He’s wearing the same grey, oversized hoodie and blue sweatpants from yesterday. His long brown hair is sticking up every-which direction. “I don’t know why you refuse to turn down the dials.”
I look in dismay and the dials are turned to full blast.
I turned it down to 1!
Peter places two pieces of wonderbread into the toaster and pushes down the nob. I watch intently.
I’ll catch you in the act, you waste of space.
But the toaster knows I’m watching, it won’t mess this one up. Its silver complexion glitters in the light, just like it had in the ad. Three hundred dollars may seem like a lot for a toaster, but for top of the line innovation, I couldn’t resist.
Peter and Steven, my two roommates, had thought it queer but didn’t complain when the obsidion case arrived in the mail.
“It actually looks like the ad!” Peter had exclaimed, turning the cube-like silver machine in his hands. It looked like it had been dropped to us from a thousand years in the future where people had perfected the art of carbed goodness.
Steven had shaken his head. “So this is how engineers spend their money?” He always has been a snob, but I caught him that night, 3am making avocado toast in my glorious new contraption.
Peter picks up the perfectly browned bread, elevated from its cheap, cardboardy form into a piece of art. Every inch of the crumb is evenly charred, and crackles as Peter splits the toast in half, revealing a fluffy interior which sends plumes of steam into the air.
Peter moans softly as he bites into the bread.
“Why don’t you use the other features?” I ask.
“Toast is toast. No need to get fancy,” he replies, walking from the room. Leaving me alone with the appliance.
Toaster is a crude name for this masterpiece. Anything you can imagine wanting to do with bread, it can do. Its smart sensors automatically detect the density and make of bread, informing the optimal algorithm for ideal cook time and temperature. It has a compartment for egg-wash if you want to make french toast, one for oil if you want a grilled piece of bread, even a cubby for ripe avocados.
And it worked like a charm... for a week. The french toast was perfectly seasoned, custardy on the inside, with a crispy, caramelized exterior. Grilled toast came out golden brown, the smell of garlic infused oil permeating throughout the small kitchen space. The avocado toast—ineffable.
Then, the incident happened.
It was a warm Saturday afternoon, and I was doing my usual musical cleaning. “Don’t Stop Believing” was blasting through my headphones and I was a little too excited about the song while wiping the marble counters. It was the toaster’s first time there and my autopilot hadn’t taken it into account. A broad stroke of the sponge accompanied by my close-eyed singing “Up and down the boulevard” had met unfamiliar resistance and the toaster flew from the counter and onto the floor.
I picked it up furtively, hoping no one else had heard the clanging and set it on the counter. No harm done—or so I thought.
That evening I placed an avocado into its cubby, set the dial to “Avocado toast,” and went back to Avenger reruns when a waft of burnt bread reached my nose. The toaster was screeching softly, burning the snot out of the baguette I had sliced up and set into it. I jammed the eject button only to reveal the damage: unopened avocado, and destroyed baguette.
That was three days ago. Every day since, I’ve encountered the same disappointing result. At first I thought I had broken the toaster, but Peter and Steven had no problems with it. I haven’t shared my experiences with them, yet. I’m still gathering evidence. Telling people that household appliances have turned on you can lead to less-than-welcome judgement.
“That’s it,” I say, staring down the machine. I can almost sense it rolling its mechanical eyes at me. “I’m going to give you till the end of this loaf of bread, and if you haven’t stopped this nonsense, you’re going in the bin with all the food you’ve ruined.”
I place the first two slices into the slots and press down. Immediately, the sound of searing and the smell of smoke fill the room. I hit eject.
We continue this process until I’m on the last two pieces. I take a deep breath and scowl at the machine. “You think that just because I spent 300 on you, I won’t toss you? Hearing you fall into the dumpster will be the most satisfying thud I’ll ever have heard.”
I place one piece into the opening then stop.
“You know what, I don’t need to ruin these two pieces to know you’re full of it.” I throw the piece back in the bag and yank the cord from the wall. The toaster lets out a soft whir and the dials quiver.
I lift it up, and turn to the door. It’s time for the dumpster. But I don’t move. My eyes are caught by the still-wavering dials, as though the toaster is holding onto its last breath. I look across the glittery surface, and stop on the bottom left: a small dent. The surrounding metal is scuffed and only reflects light dully.
I bite my lower lip. Is this from the fall?
I rest the toaster on the counter, its dials have ceased their movements and the appliance stares back at me, lifeless and hollow. Slowly, I extend the cable and plug it back in. The dials quiver then snap into locked position.
“Look,” I begin, avoiding eye-contact. “I’m sorry I dropped you. I know I should’ve said something sooner.”
I wait. After about thirty seconds, the avocado cubby snaps open and I turn to look at the toaster in dismay.
“Was that what you were waiting for?”
The dial changes position.
Click, “Grilled bread”. Click, “Toast”. “Click, “Avocado Toast”.
I hurry and remove the two pieces from the bag and drop them in, then scramble to find a ripe avocado. The toaster pulls them down without me having to lower the level. Within seconds, a warm orange light glows from the opening and the smell of fresh bread fills my senses.
When the toast pops out, it’s perfect. Golden brown bottoms, and a brilliant green mat of avocado on top. I remove the pieces tentatively, then take a bite.