After realizing it would be beneficial for me to make some of my own clothes due to the apparent polyester allergy, I realized my Singer sewing machine, which I purchased some 30+ years ago, was not up to the task. I read reviews on line and called friends to determined what I needed and what I might have to pay. Feeling prepared and optimistic I headed out to buy a new machine. I entered the sewing center lugging my old machine. I plopped it on the counter with a bang. The salesman, who I’ll call Jake, commented on what good shape it was in for its age. “Great, then it’s probably good for an even trade,” I kidded. He smirked at me and said it would get me a discount. I told him my budget and watched one eyebrows rise on his face. That, combined with a long pause, told me he was struggling for the words to respond.

He took me over to the machines and pointed out the least expensive ones, reassuring me they were all good machines. I sighed noticing the prices were slightly above my budget. I sat down at a machine. I looked up and discouragement washed over me. Rubber buttons all over it. There were rubber buttons on the next one, and the next, and the next. I hadn’t anticipated sewing machines would have rubber buttons. I was here to deal with my polyester issue and my rubber issue stepped front and center.

I imagined trying to sew with cotton gloves on. That conjured up a bloody image of sewing the gloves and my fingers right into what I was making. I shook my head to remove that image so I could focus. Jake noticed the look on my face and stared at me quizzically. I told him about my allergy to Thiuram Mix which equated to me not touching anything rubber. I said I couldn’t buy any of the machines with rubber buttons and jokingly shared my bloody image with him. “Well that won’t work,” he replied with a devilish grin. “Blood is hard to get out of fabric.”

We chuckled and I felt some tension release. The field of possible machines without rubber was narrowed to five. Three of those were so far out of my price range I refused to look at them. A wrestling match commenced in my head about the money, “You can’t do this.” “But you have to.” My head spun and it was hard to focus on what Jake was saying. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The upside was that the price difference reflected the quality of the machine. If I bought a lesser machine I might as well kept my old one. Jake noticed I was getting upset and grew more determined to help me.

I tried out each of the two sewing matching options while Jake asked questions to clarify what I’d be doing with it. He wanted to be sure I’d walk out with exactly what I needed. It seemed like forever before I made my decision. Then Jake told me it was on sale. What a relief. Then he gave me a great trade in price on old one. In the end I spent double what I had anticipated – so much for my research prep. Jake helped me pick out a pair of fabric scissors without a rubber comfort grip handle – that required opening packages to make sure the handles were not covered in rubber. He loaded the sewing machine into my trunk and I left feeling good about the choice to spend the extra money. I smiled as I thought about Jake’s attentiveness. Relaxing into the car seat I was surprised at the emotional energy it took just to buy a sewing machine. A nap felt like it would be a good idea, but off to Target I went.

At Target my goal was to replace another piece of archaic equipment, my iron, because it only worked on scorch. I came in determined to buy the top of the line iron so it too would last. The irons were lined up on a display and I began reading all the info about each one. I decided on one, I picked it up, and discovered rubber buttons and knobs. “What is the deal with all the rubber buttons on everything?” I said rather loudly.

After quickly looking around to see if anyone heard me I noticed something I hadn’t paid attention to on irons before. The chord, like my old one, comes out the top at the back. I played with them and realized my hand or arm came into contact with it while I ironed. I felt my blood pressure rise as yet another obstacle was added to a simple task like buying an iron. The field of options was narrowed dramatically. Shopping has never been a favored past time, so all this time for one item was really bugging me. I missed the days of grab and go. No longer would quality, color, or other virtues of a given item determine my choices. I was dumbfounded by how pervasive rubber is.

Some of the less expensive irons weren’t on the display. I began opening boxes because I didn’t trust what the box said, or the pictures on the box. It turned out I only had one option. The buttons and knobs were made of plastic. The only rubber part was the opening for water, which I could easily avoid. I picked up the box, paid for it and headed home hoping I had enough energy left to get there.