Not The Target Market

Some Things Just Don’t Work

In the grand scheme of things I have absolutely nothing to complain about. All my problems are First World Problems. I know that. Still, I don’t understand why someone would design something that is so clearly not suited to its purpose. And then sell it. Sometimes I spot these design flaws before I hand over the credit card; other times I don’t. Lately I have been really annoyed with some of the times that I didn’t.

For instance, until recently, the only drink coasters I had were those plastic or melamine kind that come in sets (often along with placemats and often given as gifts) with pictures of dogs or flowers or grapes on the front. Plastic (or melamine) not being absorbent, all the moisture streams off the glass into a puddle, which then reaches its limit and runs off onto the wood table, defeating the purpose of coasters in the first place.

I found some thick felt coasters and imagined they would be the perfect replacements. What I didn’t know when I bought them was that these coasters, in the shape of maple leaves, have veins artistically cut into them. These veins go all the way through the coaster so that now the moisture, instead of pooling and then evenutally spilling over, channels directly onto the wood table beneath.

Or take these two tiny pitchers. I bought them because I thought the granddaughters would enjoy having their own milk pitcher for their tea. And I admit to being suckered in by the overall cute factor.

The bunny works as advertised. The duck, on the other hand is purely decorative. To get the milk into the pitcher, you have to tip the pitcher forward, whereupon the milk that should be going into the pitcher, comes pouring out the duck’s bill. Useless.

Question: How could someone screw up a child’s xylophone? Answer: Give the mallet a short, fat handle with a serious wooden knob. The Moose loves this toy, but each time he grabs the mallet he flails the thing about and klonks himself in the head . And because there is no way for him to hold it except smack in the middle, he also mashes his fat little hands on the xylophone keys, and on the screws that hold them in place.

Why not something lighter and longer made out of plastic or silicone? Something that might actually bring out the sound of the metal bars? Because a baby’s knuckles are horrible sound conductors.

And then there is my refrigerator. I despise the thing. There are many bad features, and I could devote a whole post to its awfulness, but the one feature that drives me nuts on a daily basis is the hanging excrescence protruding into the middle of the top shelf, severely limiting the space available for normal size cartons and bottles. Furthermore, if you keep the taller bottles, etc., in the front and use the space under “the thing” for smaller items, they are lost forever and begin to emit bad smells in their lostness. Total wasted space.

But, you ask, wouldn’t you have more room (and less exasperation) if you didn’t keep the cheese in a shoebox on the top shelve? No, not really and I’ll tell you why: the cheese and meat drawer of this particular model was designed to be as big as the shelf it hung under. In theory, a great idea for the drawer – except that in practice it spanned the whole width of the refrigerator and left about six inches of space on the shelf underneath. If you could find things that would fit onto the six inch high shelf, you couldn’t see to retrieve them. More bad smells as they linger. Fortunately that drawer was not a permanent feature and I yanked it out.

You have another question: why buy this particular refrigerator in the first place, especially if it is so annoying? Well, it’s like this: this is a very small house, which has a very small kitchen and very narrow doorways. That limits what I can buy. Even with the door and hinges off this refrigerator, and with the door off the house as well, this piece of nonsense made it through with only about an eighth of an inch to spare.

Furthermore, it was bought as part of a set of appliances when I re-did the kitchen. That meant I had to take into account both the features of the other appliances and the overall price of the set and find the combination that annoyed me the least. And last of all, when I am looking at appliances, I think of the the things I’ve either loved or struggled with in the past and buy accordingly. Even my imagination can’t spot all the new-to-me, yet-to-be-discovered horrors and it’s those things that end up being the new problems.

The Hunter would have it in these cases, as in so many others, That I Am Not The Target Market. I counter with the world clearly needs my oversight. As a start, it could remember that in functional objects, arty isn’t everything.


  1. Barbara Cole

    You need some”thirsty” coasters made out of that sandy stuff……. problem solved. I also have one of those cute little pitchers that is a Labrador retriever puppy. I must confess it never even occurred to me to try and pour anything out of it. It fits perfectly on my narrow kitchen windowsill and serves as a charming little flower vase for short blooms or some artificial holiday concoction. But I feel your pain all the way with the refrigerator. All. The. Way.

  2. Your brother

    Hate my new fridge and dishwasher, too. The dishwasher’s racks seem designed to make certain items not fit. Our amount of hand dish washing has gone way up since purchasing this labor-saving device.


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