talking home appliances

Before moving to Japan, one thing that fascinated me is what I call talking home appliances. When visiting Japan I could hear baking machines speak, bath water control panels sing, rice cookers play songs. I thought it cute and dreamy and fancied living in a home where I was surrounded by those friendly machines instead of a microwave oven that was beeping like an irritating alarm clock when finished working. Fast forward a few years, and I was enjoying living in a home with a rice-cooker-music-box and a hot water control panel informing me to take care since the water is hot. I was living the dream; then our son was born – now I curse the machines instead.

We live in a one room apartment and as such my wife and I have gotten used to eating in near complete darkness whispering almost unhearingly to each other in order not to wake our shallowly sleeping son. He wakes up from the smell of fried fish, from when the chopsticks fall on the floor (which happens quite often when eating in a dark room it turns out) and of course from when the rice cooker plays its I-am-ready-now-song (although strangely enough he never wakes up when the ambulance rushes past outside). Every time the rice cooker starts to play my wife and I freeze, waiting for a whimpering indicating that our son woke up, all while wondering why in the world it is not possible to turn off this blasted song (that seems like it never ends).

There really should be a night time mode on the appliances, a please-be-quiet-our-baby-is-sleeping-setting that could easily be switched on whenever needed – maybe it was better in the old days when a machine could not make unmachinelike sounds. I am wondering what the home appliance world will look like when our son grows up. Maybe it will be standard to talk to the machines as well as to hear then express their pre-programmed sound bites. Maybe then it will be possible to just ask my talking toaster to be quiet until morning – now that would be something to enjoy if we ever do baby sitting when we get old.

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