Musing About…An Old Toaster

What happened? I did everything just like I normally do and it has always worked perfectly before. So why did it not work this time? Now, you may be thinking that I am describing an event that is crucial in my life and you are right…for I am relating to you the great tragedy that befell me just a couple of weeks ago; my toaster stopped working. I placed the two slices of bread into the toaster and waited for them to almost magically descend into the fiery pits where they would be roasted and toasted until they mysteriously emerge a rich, golden brown. I placed the slices in and then turned to the refrigerator to gather the next crucial elements for my gourmet breakfast—butter and some type of jelly. My mind was already preoccupied with the thought of spreading the butter on the bread that would be so freshly toasted that the butter would simply melt into all the nooks and crannies and then topping it with a generous layer of the nectar of gods—White House Apple Butter—I was salivating at the very thought. Thus I was horrified when I turned back to the toaster only to discover that the bread was still soft and white; it had never toasted. Picking up one slice, I bounced it up and down on the internal spring mechanism, thinking that maybe I had ill-placed it on my first attempt, but to my dismay, it still remained sticking out halfway. I checked the plug, moving it from one socket to another, still to no avail. I was now faced with the gravity of the situation…my toaster was dead.

This toaster is not just any ordinary one. It is a Sunbeam Model T-20 Radiant Control Toaster; the best of the toaster heyday. This one was made in 1953, so it has faithfully served its various owners over a decade longer than I have been alive. It still sparkles with its chrome casing and, up until this particular morning, continued to captivate people with its automatic simplicity—place the bread slices in and watch them slowly descend, toast, and then, just as slowly, emerge. But that has all changed. The toaster has toasted its last. Or has it?

I have a shadow side to my life. I like to tinker with stuff. I do not like throwing broken things away until I have been satisfied that they either cannot be fixed, or to do so would greatly outweigh the value. It would be easy to toss the old toaster, after all, it’s over sixty years old and most would say it’s time for a new one. But there is a special allure to this mechanism from a bygone era. So I begin to dismantle it and inspect the intricacy of its inner workings. All the springs seem to be intact. There is no obvious sign that anything is out of sorts. So what’s the problem? I deduce that it could be only one thing…a bad power cord. Finding an extension cord that appeared to be of the same gauge, I removed the old and failed cord and grafted on the new one. Then, the moment of truth was upon me. I plugged the cord into the socket and pushed down on the spring mechanism with my finger and waited. After what seemed to be an agonizingly long second, I heard the scrap of metal against metal as the tray began to gently lower and the coils burst forth with their radiant glow. My old faithful friend was alive again!

Now I know that this event sounds rather trivial, but it does not always take much to make me happy. I felt a sense of satisfaction that I was able to rescue this device from becoming another component filling up a landfill. Through some invested time and simple restoration, this toaster has been given new life and will most likely serve for many more years. But the satisfaction I have in this tale is not about the toaster, for it is simply a metaphor of a bigger act of love. Each day of each year, we get older, and sometimes we fail to serve as we were created to do. But God, with an infinite amount of grace and compassion, restores and renews us so that we may live our lives as we were created to do. I could go on, but I have become a bit hungry…I think I will have some toast.