SLICE OF LIFE: Living life in automatic drive

2013-01-20T00:00:00Z SLICE OF LIFE: Living life in automatic driveBy Vanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

I'm starting to hate little modern conveniences.

Oh sure, it's annoying when an automatic faucet in the bathroom doesn't read your wave, and it can be alarming when a toilet mis-interprets your lack of motion as motion.

But, over the holidays I had an encounter with an automatic air freshener the could've cost me my vision.

We were decorating the house for Christmas. My brother and I were standing on opposite sides of the railing, passing garland through the posts, wrapping along the way.

About two posts in, I leaned over an end table, heard a burst of noise a few inches below me and felt instant pain in my eyes.

I slammed them shut and threw the ball of garland, blindly running toward the bathroom, screaming, "My eyes! My eyes!" I frantically flushed them with warm water, emerging later, puffy and red.

That stupid automatic air freshener. It was blinding me with fresh linen fragrance.

It goes off every half hour or so on its own, but it also is triggered by motion. I'd been cursing the thing for months. And this was its revenge.

Disguised as a decorative vase, it blends in with the living room decor, so I forget it's there. But then it reminds me, often bursting close to midnight when I'm by myself watching something on TV about ghosts.

And when it's empty or almost empty, it sounds sad and possessed, wheezing and gasping for a refill.

Aside from freshening the room and improving my creativity in curse words, the thing is pointless. I'm always on edge sitting next to it, waiting for it to attack.

I've never hated a piece of functional decor so much in my life. 

I appreciate a lot of conveniences, saving us time by making life easier here and there.

The hands-free soap dispensers seem more hygienic and less messy than ones you pump. And, I can't imagine dragging luggage across Midway Airport without the help of a people mover. 

But let's draw the line somewhere. Let's start with those evil air fresheners.

Vanessa Renderman is a reporter for The Times. You can reach her at

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