On my way to work the other morning I had a snowshoe blow-out. Its not that it went flat – snowshoes are at their best when they’re flat – but an essential strap broke. It being around super bowl time, lets just say I experienced a ‘footwear malfunction’. When it happened, as luck would have it, I was in the middle of a steep, open slope, upon which the deep snow had recently been completely re-distributed by ferocious winds. Fussing around with my show shoes in the dark, with the wind still a-whipping and mentally noting – not wryly, not philosophically, certainly not resignedly, but not with fervid rancor, either – that the path I had so patiently packed down day after day ever since the last snow was no longer packed down, but completely drifted in, which would make it hard to shuffle along on one and a half snow shoes. My position on the issue was, perhaps, expressed by a little mawkish, over-stated stomping as I resumed my task of packing at least one side of the trail down.
I’m sure most of us have had those days when things go wrong one after another and not just in a slings-and-arrows-of-fortune sort of way, but in an eight-year-old-with-a-slingshot-and-a-grudge sort of way. It infests the brain with a grumbling internal dialogue set on infinite repeat. That is to say; we dwell on it. And when dwelling, a considerable shock or surprise may be required to snap us out of it. That is exactly what I got when I heard that distinctive, low ‘thwump’ familiar to anyone who spends any amount of quality time in avalanche country. For those of you who don’t, its low, its distinctive, and it occurs when wind-driven snow gets packed on top of a less stable layer of snow, and is then disturbed. That can happen by, say, a stick of dynamite being detonated, or, perhaps, a petulantly planted snow shoe. It can precede an avalanche. Especially if the disturbance continues; often its when the second snowmobile crosses an unstable slope, or, for instance, when a scairdy-cat snow shoe-er tries to make a quick escape on one and a half snow shoes. I’m sure you get the picture.
Needless to say, I was not tumbled tragically into a tree to die a slow, lonely, airless death under an ocean of snow, nor would I have been even had the avalanche launched. When I was safely across the open slope, I shone my flashlight up on the snow above the trail and saw the fracture to be only six or so feet above it, so I’d have been at most knocked over and had a few tons of snow shoved down my pants. Not a great prospect, but not bad, considering the alternatives. That may not be the opinion of the good people at the Tubbs Snow Shoe company, however, who offer a lifetime warranty on their products. Had I expired, so would the warranty, but as it is, it is my estimation that they owe me a strap with which to fix my binding. Be that as it may, they aren’t going to give me one. They have redesigned those bindings (perchance because the straps kept breaking? Hmmmn?), and no longer stock straps for the old type. Somebody ‘splain me this: if you provide a lifetime warranty it should be for the lifetime of the user, not the product, right? And if you obsolete-ize the product before its lifetime warranty expires, you should upgrade the product to a less obsolete state, right? Now ‘splain it to them, because that’s not the way they see it.
At least Sirius satellite radio didn’t even pretend to believe that their products would last a lifetime, as they only offer a three month warranty on their radios, which I discovered later that day. Keep in mind that all this happened before 10 a.m., and then decide if you think I should run out a buy a powerball ticket. I’ll need the money to fix all the detritus of this modern life, but I think that while generally one’s chances of winning are about the same weather or not one buys a ticket, in my case, buying a ticket might actually lessen my chances of winning. Anyway, yes, my three year-old radio receiver died, and, speaking of obsolescence, they discontinued that model, making my boom box and docking station equally obsolete. This is their (not so) crafty way of prying open our cold, clenched fists from around our very last dirty shekels, after we were lured into buying a lifetime subscription to the service. I thought I was getting a deal on that, but what, I ask you, do I know? I’m not dead yet, but they will find a way to terminate my lifetime subscription: mark my words.