Friday, October 16, 2009

The Case of the Faulty Hair Dryer

The following scene is loosely based on true events from my morning....

It was a sunny Friday morning when she walked into my office.


“Detective,” she said, “I have a problem.”


I put down my pen and looked up. The woman in front of me looked normal, wearing a fashionable brown dress (of the likes I’ve never seen before) and suede boots. But something was off. I couldn’t put my finger on it until she started talking.


“It happened this morning,” she continued. “I was getting ready for the day like I always do. You know--brushing my teeth, applying my make up, getting dressed. But then when I went to dry my hair, something went wrong. I started the hair dryer and instead of firing up like it usually does, it made a low, strange noise, and then just shut down completely.”



“How long have you had the dryer?” I asked politely, finally understanding what was off about her appearance. It was her hair--sadly flat and dull, she resembled a wet cat. Not flattering. Not at all.

“Oh, for less than a year I think.”


“Well, these things happen, ma’am. Perhaps you’ve just worn it out. New hair dryers aren’t that expensive, you know.”


“Well, yes, I see your point. It’s just that this is the second time in a month that this has happened.”

“Really.”


“Uh huh. The first time was more dramatic. I was using a different hair dryer--one I use for travel--and suddenly it started making strange noises. Then I heard a Pop! and a shower of sparks burst out from the outlet, turning into flame. I could have been harmed.”


“I see. And how long had you had this dryer?”

“Oh, for longer I suppose, but I didn’t use it more than a handful of times a year.”


“Well, ma’am, I think what we have here is a case of planned obsolescence.”


“Planned what?”


“Obsolescence. It’s when manufacturers create products that are designed to break down within a short period of time.”


“But why would they do that?”


“Well, to make money, of course. And to save money. They can make a product with cheaper parts, keeping the item at a lower cost, and also design them to fall apart quickly so that you keep coming back to purchase another one.”



“So you’re saying that my hair dryers are basically designed to be disposable?”

“That’s what I’m saying.”


“That doesn’t seem right.”


“I don’t make the rules, ma’am. I just solve cases.”


“Well, thank you for your time, Detective. I guess I have to go buy a new hair dryer.”


"Good day, ma'am. And good luck with your hair."


Though this story is obviously dramatized, planned obsolescence is real indeed. And we'll talk more about it as our pursuit for originality continues.

And for the record...I am having a terrible hair day.


Have a good weekend!

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