Jane Armstrong


SUBJECTLG French Door refrig­er­a­tor
FEATURES: Stainless Steel fin­ish, LED inte­ri­or light, IcePlus ice mak­er, open-door alarm
CONSUMER-BASED DESIRE: Attractive, décor-con­sis­tent, counter-depth refrig­er­a­tor with no on-door func­tions (fussy and unnec­es­sary)
PROCESS:  Showrooming at Sear’s
PLACE OF PURCHASEAJ Madison: Your Appliance Authority (online retail­er)
ORDER DATE:  December 12, 2012
DELIVERY DATE: January 17, 2013
REASON FOR DELAY:  “It’s out of our ware­house.  Contact the ship­per.”
QUERY (HOUSEGUEST):  “How do you like that fridge?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  “The lights inside look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.”
RESPONSE (HOUSEGUEST):  “I guess so, but our LG is big­ger so we can keep more food around. And we can get ice and water with­out hav­ing to open the door and there’s that small door for the food you eat all day with­out hav­ing to open the whole big door.  That saves a ton of elec­tric­i­ty.”
UNSPOKEN (HOSTESS):  But yours isn’t Star Trek.
VALUE:  Feigned inter­est in appoint­ments of hostess’s recent­ly pur­chased home (dis­tressed prop­er­ty);  sug­ges­tion of frosti­ness

SUBJECT:  Whirlpool Gold Series dish­wash­er
FEATURES:  Stainless Steel fin­ish, Stainless Steel inte­ri­or, Eco-options, remov­able flat­ware tray, qui­et oper­a­tion
CONSUMER-BASED DESIRE: Clean dish­es (GE Profile dish­wash­er left in fore­closed prop­er­ty spewed food par­tic­u­late from water jets
PROCESS:  In-store pur­chase fol­low­ing Internet search (reverse show­room­ing, shame-induced)
PLACE OF PURCHASE:  Home Depot #421
DATE OF PURCHASE:  February 16, 2013
DELIVERY DATE:  February 21, 2013
INSTALLATION MISHAP:  Installers and con­sumer (host­ess) spoke dif­fer­ent lan­guages.  Consumer unable to locate cir­cuit break­ers, feared elec­tro­cu­tion of (pos­si­bly) undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers
QUERY (HOUSEGUEST):  “Is that a new dish­wash­er or was it in the house when you bought it?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  “It’s new.”
COMMENT (HOUSEGUEST):  “Bosch is real­ly the best.”
COMMENT(HOSTESS):  “I had a Bosch at my old house.  It wasn’t all that great.”
RESPONSE (HOUSEGUEST):  “You can’t beat the Germans for design.”
REJOINDER (HOSTESS):  “But you can beat ‘em for get­ting cups clean.”
COMMENT (HOUSEGUEST):  “Bosch is the qui­etest on the mar­ket.  It doesn’t both­er my tin­ni­tus.”
RESPONSE (HOSTESS):  “The Whirlpool is only two deci­bels loud­er than the Bosch.”
REJOINDER (HOUSEGUEST): “Whirlpool sounds American but it’s prob­a­bly made in China or Korea where all the cheap stuff comes from.  And two deci­bels real­ly mat­ters if you suf­fer from tin­ni­tus.”
UNSPOKEN (HOSTESS):  Two deci­bels real­ly mat­ter if you’re an ass­hole.
VALUE:  Assertion of supe­ri­or­i­ty (pas­sive)

SUBJECT:  Bosch Formula Electro Duo Canister Vacuum
FEATURES:  Full HEPA fil­tra­tion, on-board attach­ments, styl­ish blue can­is­ter col­or, whis­per-qui­et oper­a­tion
CONSUMER-BASED DESIRE: Hatred of pre­vi­ous­ly owned Dyson upright
PROCESS: Cheapest high-end can­is­ter vac on overstock.com
PLACE OF PURCHASE:  overstock.com
DATE OF PURCHASE:  Beyond mem­o­ry
FEAR FOR THE FUTURE:  Discontinued fil­ter bags
QUERY (HOUSEGUEST):  “What kind of vac­u­um clean­er do you have?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  “Bosch can­is­ter with HEPA fil­ter, on-board attach­ments, and whis­per-qui­et oper­a­tion in a styl­ish blue col­or. I got it cheap on Overstock.”
QUERY (HOUSEGUEST):  “Oh, yeah?  How much?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  [eva­sive shrug]
FOLLOW-UP QUERY:  “How do you like it?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  “My rugs are sparkling.”
COMMENT (HOUSEGUEST):  “We have the Dyson hand-vac.”
UNSPOKEN (HOSTESS):  You need the Dyson hand-job.
QUERY (HOSTESS):  “So how’s that?”
REPLY (HOUSEGUEST):  “It’s good, but it only holds a charge for, like, two min­utes.”
REJOINDER (HOSTESS):  “The Allies won WWII, but the Germans win in suck­ing.”
VALUE:  Escalation of ten­sion

RANDOM STATEMENT (HOUSEGUEST):  “I col­lect these watch­es…” [shows small wrist dom­i­nat­ed by big Breitling] “… and as a thank-you to its best cus­tomers, the com­pa­ny took me on a bal­loon ride over the Everglades. It was amaz­ing.”
RESPONSE (HOSTESS):  “What time is it?”
VALUE:  Assertion of supe­ri­or­i­ty (inel­e­gant)

SUBJECTTOTO toi­let  (“TOTO, a glob­al leader com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing prod­ucts that con­nect you with water in ways that enrich the flow of your every­day life. That’s the core of peo­ple-first inno­va­tion. It’s our pas­sion. It’s our mis­sion. And it’s pure TOTO.”)
MODEL:  Drake II
FEATURES:   Sleek high pro­file two-piece design
Double Cyclone® Technology
Powerful, qui­et flush every time
Capacity to flush thir­ty golf­balls at once
CONSUMER-BASED DESIRE:  Capacity to reli­ably flush human waste (with­out plunger assis­tance)
PLACE OF PURCHASE:  Central Plumbing Supply (local)
DATE OF PURCHASE:  January 18, 2013
PROCESS:  Contractor’s selec­tion
QUERY (HOUSEGUEST):  “Are all your toi­lets TOTO?”
FOLLOW-UP QUERY:  “Guess that set you back a bit?”
REPLY (HOSTESS):  “I don’t know.”
POINT OF INFORMATION (HOUSEGUEST):  “We priced them out once.  They’re almost $800 apiece.”
REPLY (HOUSEGUEST):  “Your shit must be spe­cial.”
RESPONSE (HOSTESS):  [laugh­ter]
VALUE:  Neither silence nor vio­lence
Jane Armstrong is an edi­tor and reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor at NWW.