It was sitting there when I walked in the room. Right next to the milk machine and the microwave. It was so beautiful I almost spilled orange juice on my shoe and tossed my Cheerios to the wind. I could have stared at it all day.
So much more than a toaster, it was like a gleaming titanium-alloy monument to hope and joy and everything that is good in life. If I held my breath, I thought I could hear violins playing.
Several of the people surrounding me were blaspheming, in their ignorance, this magnificent wonder. They questioned where their bread products had gone and if they could be trusted to return. But as I strapped my bagel in and watched it ascend into the sky, I realized that all the potential inherent to mankind had finally been fulfilled.
Though the blasphemers continued to blaspheme, the toaster said nothing. It simply turned the other cheek. I, on the other hand, having only human levels of self-restraint, was spurred to action. “Stop, before it’s too late for redemption,” I cried. “This, my children, is the toast of the future! The piece of bread you hold in your hand now will soon return to you, golden-brown, the color of enlightenment!”
People began to turn away. Many were not ready for my message. Others simply gravitated towards the old toaster, a safe, familiar object, but a mockery as far as toasting was concerned.
I suppose the motion of putting bread in the toaster, 4, 5, 6 times is comforting, like pushing a big rock up a hill and then watching it roll back down. It precludes having to face the unknown or unexplainable. It is safe, and requires minimal brain power.
It is difficult for a toaster to garner much respect. After all, it is one of the most humble of kitchen appliances. It does not fricasse, saute, or deep-fry. It does not peel and chop garlic in one easy step, leaving your hands odor-free, or shoot out disc-shaped slices of vegetables into your salad bowl. It does not whistle, sing, or allow you to watch TV. There have been very few infomercials on the lowly toaster.
All this combines to prejudice the masses against this pillar of the universe. They eat the toast, but do not stop to wonder at its transformation from bread into a breakfast staple. They are blinded by a long and proud history of non-thinkers and non-questioners, all eaters of toast, who paused only when said toast happened to be blackened beyond all recognition. It takes the appearance of the king of all toasters, a machine surpassing even NASA’s appliance standards, to force the long-rusty gears of actual thought, encased in the heads of the masses, to begin to turn. Keep in mind that thought is different from action. Most people were too filled with angst at the thought of change to consider the new toaster in a judicial light. But angst occasionally leads to thought, and the few mavericks who initially brave the unknown may soon become leaders among the diners and breakfasters all over the world, or campus.
A toaster is not always just a toaster. Sometimes it is a symbol of something far greater, something beyond your control. Sometimes you put in a bagel and out pops divine understanding. Of course sometimes your bread just carbonizes, but that’s the way the universe works. And sometimes you run into the satanic influence of an amorphous vat of margarine. But that also is a property of the universe. Toasters, margarine, and the unexplained mysteries of the cosmos. You have to wonder why some people skip breakfast.