For many months the water in my bathroom sink wouldn’t drain. Well, it would, but only because a little bitty gap somewhere along the clog allowed it to. In the morning I would leave a sink filled with a mixture of mouthwash, toothpaste, water and shaving foam and come home from work to find the last vestiges of that morning’s liquid fusion at last heading south to the septic tank.

I also owned for too many years a standup vacuum that stopped standing up. It worked – it cleaned – but if I left it alone for a second, it would collapse to the floor like one of Paul Bunyan’s trees he’d taken an ax to. More than once I had to vacuum up dirt from a potted plant the vacuum knocked over. Yes, I’m one of the few people I know (OK, the only one) who’s had to vacuum up a mess the vacuum caused.

I also once received a good zap from a fan whose extension cord had exposed wires. I knew the fan had that fatal flaw, but the blades turned, the fan cooled on hot, humid evenings – the fan worked. It was only because my wife got jealous of that electrifying hug (thank goodness!) that the fan ended up on the trash heap.

I play pingpong with balls that don’t bounce right because they have incurable dimples. I yank on a reliable chainsaw pull cord that reliably snaps in two when I pull it. I blow snow through a snowblower chute that never stays still but would rather blast me with the snow instead of toss it across my driveway. I live with an egg beater wand that won’t snap into the beater anymore but has to be pressed down into the bowl to ensure it won’t take flight and give a beating to an unsuspecting passer-by.

I have no qualms replacing broken things.

But rare are the objects that can’t muster the strength to turn on anymore, that allow me to feel for a pulse and finding none, call their time of passing. Like Hamlet’s death scene, they mutter in a hoarse whisper “The rest is silence” but then go on to gasp “O-O-O.” On the first day my microwave stopped working, it still spun the oatmeal in a circle and proudly beeped when the time was up. Yes, that’s me pouring cold milk into cold oatmeal and water to cool it down.

But maybe I’m being too hard on my inanimate object friends. I, too, am wearing down like them. I need reading glasses now and am grateful my eyes haven’t just gone from seeing to blindness. Much better is the inanimate object’s plodding way of deterioration. Like that inconspicuous swirling frothy gyre in my sink, let’s be thankful when you and I and other broken things find a way through and get the job done. Praise be for broken things that still work.

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