Bite Me! or My Carbon Toothprint?
My Philips Sonicare toothbrush finally died sometime while I was away. It wouldn’t charge up at all. I threw it away. Kerlunk. This electric toothbrush malarkey has always been a bit of a gimmick, don’t you think? (“Reverberating harmonic sound energy to power-clean your pearly-whites!” Kerrraaapp!)
I once would never use an electric tool where some good old elbow grease would do. Now my elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, feet (tha De’il take ’em) have no grease left to spare. I bought the Sonicare thing when I worked with Philips. They were practically giving them away to staff members as a new model was coming out. That was six years ago. It has certainly lasted a long time for an electronic product, way past warranty! Finally I get to stiff some technology company - hey, Philips I beat you at last! (By way of karma, the iMac doesn’t find my new 1TB HDD when I use the Firewire cable to connect, so: swings and roundabouts…)
I mean, it wasn’t for the fact it was cheap, I wouldn’t have thought of buying it. It only started to conk out a while ago, started to lose charge quickly, but as I was only home for a day or two at a time, this wasn’t such a big deal - in fact I was sort of wondering if I wasn’t imagining it. Maybe I DIDN’T charge it last time, sort of thing. Anyway, so four of five months ago, when I was still using a conventional toothbrush when traveling, and you know I travel a lot, I got one of those battery things from OralB for home use… but man, they are freaking gutless. I only use IT for travel now, which can be a pain in the arse as I am supposed to remove the batteries when I check-in, but I take it anyway because, hey, I bought it and let’s be honest, I can no longer be fucked moving my hand fast enough to do a good job on my teeth.
So with the Sonicare finally dying I had to make a decision. Revitalize my life, lift my game, get motivated and buy a new normal toothbrush for home, or bite the carbon bullet once more and destroy the planet for the sake of my peri-dental hygiene? Because when it works it kicks plaque-butt from here to Shenzen (where plaque rules!) You run your tongue across the front, you really feel the difference…
Which reminds me of a true story. When renegotiating my contract in Philips in Hong Kong a few years ago (I failed miserably to get what I wanted - i.e. the same as last year, please - hence I no longer work there), I don’t know what came over me. I asked the Chinese HR lady about dental cover. She nearly choked on her tooth-pick. “Dental cover?” she asked. She was amazed! She shook her head silently for a few seconds, as if wondering if I came from Mars or maybe some other confectionary company.
“Oh that’s right, you Westerners* care about your teeth, don’t you?”
Her teeth were atrocious of course, yellow, crooked, unloved. Why do such un-“people persons” get into HR? It amazes me. Secret email code for our HR VP was ((!)) ... Ask me later.
OK, one dead Sonicare. I still had lots of life left in the actual brush-head - they seem to be made of sterner stuff than normal, manual toothbrushes - and I had two unused spare ones as well. It would be a shame to waste them over the few kilo-watts needed to charged the battery every few weeks, so, sigh, I went into Best to buy a new Philips Sonicare, a model that was compatible with my current brushes, as of course not all of them are. There stood my old bog standard model, on special at $149, down from $192. I look at it. It is plain, bulky and boring compared to the new model (compatible with my brushes). The new one is sexy blue along the sides, has a flashing yellow LED power indicator, a variable power switch, ANOTHER spare brush and a wall holder, and costs $210… but wait, there’s more! It also includes the offer of a FREE sandwich toaster. All I have to do is spend $20 on taxis to get to and from Toa Payoh to pick it up. (Getting into a Singapore taxi is a minimum $10 these days.) Now, I don’t eat toasted sandwiches as a rule. I have no space on my bench to place a special electric sandwich maker. If I ever wanted to fry a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich (mmm, sounds nice, I’ll have to make one tomorrow) I could use my gas burners and the hot-plate from my Philips electric indoor BBQ machine, which I never use either and sits in the same cupboard as my Philips giant rice-steamer (serves 40). (I also don’t need a fancy coffee machine but I checked them out there too while I was in the shop - not a Krups, don’t worry Mr Miyagi!)
There are a dozen reason to buy the old model - they certainly last a long time. You could hardly say that a model which lasts six years suffers from inbuilt obsolescence. Fuck, I buy the new model. Which ends up costing me $80 bucks over the perfectly adequate older model, plus loads me with an unnecessary electric toaster, plunging my carbon footprint deeper and deeper into the worldwide shame file.
*I am sure she wanted to say “gwailo”…
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Expat I also went down this path with my own toothbrush. Somehow I managed to get 9 years from the base model Braun. So rather than go to a new brand and waste my replacement brush heads I went for the same brand again. Yes I did also move up to more sexy features and better styling. I could not help myself...
As to the Asian oral care habits, I am generally confused by this. I have seen many that I would use the excellent description that I once read (not sure where) 'a dirty row of baked beans'. However the people I know who have spent the most on their teeth are almost without exception my Chinese friends. Those from Mainland China told me that they used to be given an antibiotic as a China that made their teeth Yellow and horrible to look at.
The other thing I just remembered is that the dentists I have as friends are also all Asian, (Chinese and a Sri Lankan mate). Although I think that is more to do with the profit made in Australia.
Sino: once the gadget/gizmo gene is activated, there's no going back!
My family are mostly engineers and scientists, what can I say? Gadgets are fun