Taking The Right Step

My attempt to scrub the bathroom wall above the bathtub didn’t go quite as planned. What could go wrong when you are standing on a step stool straddling the tub and attempting to reach that annoying dirt in the corner of the ceiling? Well, when the step stool thingie you are standing on collapses because it’s older than your married son, then you have a problem.

Luckily I didn’t seriously hurt anything more than my pride. But the real loss was that step stool. My late aunt and uncle gave it to me and it had been a fixture in the kitchen for many years. It was one of those step stools with two steps and the bottom one pulled out to stabilize it. The top had a seat just right for sitting at the stove while constantly stirring a cheese sauce for the cauliflower. The seat flipped up so you could, if you were foolish enough, stand on the top step.

It had shiny chrome legs and a padded blue seat. It was the makeshift kiddie chair I scooted up to the table when our son was small and wanted to color at the kitchen table or when a little niece or nephew visited and needed a place to sit and help me make pepperoni rolls.

When it was time to take down the curtains or put up the Christmas lights, we reached for that step stool. And it took plenty of abuse, being knocked to the floor by accident, a few times too many. It’s where I plopped a heavy bag of groceries when I stumbled into the kitchen and where I sometimes stacked cookbooks as I searched for a recipe I had torn out of the newspaper and stashed inside one of those books.

My attempt to replace this favored kitchen accessory has been met with frustration. Can’t find one anywhere that even comes close to what I had. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have a great need or desire for “things” in my life. But when something you actually use on a daily basis works well, you hate to lose it.

This search only emphasized to me that despite our free trade policies in this country, I really believe that our choices for many quality products are fewer today than they were 30 or 40 years ago when the U.S. was the king of worldwide manufacturing.

My step stool has gone the way of the Wheeling Steel garbage cans that used to line the alleys of local neighborhoods. Even plain old ice tea glasses are either made in China or are outrageously expensive and much too fancy for my Fiesta ware. Don’t even attempt to take my 38-year-old ironing board from me. Sure, it’s lost its rubber coverings off two of the four legs and it’s heavier than any ironing board made today, but it works and serves me well.

It’s the same for clothing. The socks my husband wore for years that we bought at Sears are no longer available. I guess they went the way of the big dryer in the sky that eats socks for selfish reasons.

For now I am content with the “things” in my life because, for the most part, they may be aging but still useful. It’s much like more than half of our population these days. As for step stools, I’ll keep looking.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at ziegler@ theintelligencer.net.