Have you seen the Visa commercial where everyone's getting lunch at the cafeteria and everything is moving like a well-oiled machine... then someone throws a wrench in it (in this case, paying with cash instead of their Visa Check Card(tm)) and everything falls apart? [Visa Commercial: 'Lunch'] I like this commercial, mainly because it is the perfect dramatization of how you get into a regular routine, and the smallest change can throw you completely off.
This is especially apparent when you live alone... rarely do things change without you actually changing them, so you can neglect common double-checks you might normally take without fear of anything unexpected happening... until you have guests (like my freeloading sister a few months back). The differences can manifest themselves in the most unusual places... like the toaster.
Have you noticed that most people, whether they realize it or not, have a very distinct preference for how they toast their bread. Some people like it blackened (or as I would call it, 'cajun style'), others just warm enough that it's a bit crusty, but not a hint of brown anywhere on it. Still others prefer it somewhere specific on a scale between those extremes. Myself, I prefer it, as Alton Brown would say, "golden brown and delicious"... no black, but enough that it's just a bit toasty. The problem is, few toasters (and certainly not my classic 1980's stainless steel model) have any sort of custom presets like a car radio to set how toasty you want it. Instead, I have to rely on my experience to get the lever set to exactly the right toastiness, and trust that once I get it right it's not going to change. It's a time-proven system... until someone touches it. On several occasions when I mindlessly dropped my bread into the toaster and pushed the plunger down expecting "golden brown & delicious" toast, I ended up with extra dark and over toasted toast. Such a disappointment. After the first such occasion, I traced it to my fine freeloading sister who had monkeyed with the toaster (and then later claimed that I need a new toaster... totally bogus). It just goes to show that sometimes your routine can get the best of you.
[Editor's note: I had this rant probably 3 months ago, but as usual forgot about it everytime I was trying to think of something to blog about until now.]