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No more toaster shame or warranty shame

“Would you like the warranty with that — it’s $2,” the masked cashier behind the Plexiglass asked.

I squinted at him because I hadn’t heard him clearly and surely not correctly, had I?

But who knows what people are saying under their breath and under a mask on top of that.

Squinting enhances my ability to hear better for some reason, so I squinted with a little more intensity. I probably burned a whole extra 20 calories for that effort.

Squinting also makes no facial secret of how I’m feeling at some points in the day when I’m struggling to process information unfamiliar to me. Color me confused, which is what I was in the checkout line with this transaction under way.

I double-checked what the cashier had just scanned. It was indeed a $16 toaster, hardly a bread-browning model worthy of a warranty, I can assure you.

“It’s asking if you want the warranty,” the clerk explained apologetically, gesturing toward the register, a money marvel with a mind all its own, apparently, since it can ask questions.

Suddenly the worldwide wheel of commerce had stopped spinning as Better Half and I dared to decide — play it safe, oh wise ones, and get the $2 warranty, breathe a husband-and-wife collective sigh of relief or live dangerously and do without, you fools, each toasting of wheat bread a crap shoot.

In my head I heard the “Jeopardy!” music playing as if we were in the final clue part of the show, the correct answer awaited for the really big win.

I looked at Better Half, partly because I was amused by the question but also because I don’t make those kind of big financial decisions in our household.

He shook his head and chuckled.

“No thanks,” I translated for the clerk. “My husband thinks we ought not to.”

Great Earth! What is the world coming to, I thought. A $2 warranty on a $16 toaster?! Granted, it was a toaster that could do four slices at once, but that’s about it. This one had no color to it, no bells and whistles, no defrost and reheat buttons (who actually reheats toast anyway?), no spacious bagel-sized slots, nothing.

I have been in the market for a new toaster for a good two years. Honestly. We had just a very basic four-slice model, used and abused but holding its own, despite us having made garlic toast in it time and again. A big no-no. It still toasted in two of the slots, but you had to hold the handle down and exercise a little patience in the process. Another 20 calories.

The toaster isn’t used all that often so normally it’s banished to the cupboard under the kitchen sink until it makes a breakfast appearance now and again, like the last two times when my sister Linda was home for a visit.

She had tried to use it without success.

“What’s up with your toaster?” she had asked innocently enough.

I, of course, took it personally and assumed that she was toaster-shaming me again, for the second consecutive year no less.

Irritated, I gave her a brief toaster tutorial.

Paranoid, I think I heard her mutter something like “Toasters aren’t that expensive.”

Life without a toaster warranty is OK, but I have wondered what the process would be like to stake a claim on that warranty. What a nightmare that would probably be, calling some number and getting a recording instructing callers to press 1 for this or 2 for “suckers who got the $2 warranty on a $16 toaster,” a directive followed by evil laughter.

No warranty shame for me.

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