For a few weeks now I have been visiting my widowed father, who lives in an old house far out in the country. It has been a lovely visit -- except that it has revealed to me, yet again, how spoiled I am by modern living.
My father's house is not modern. It has a well and septic tank instead of municipal water. The well frequently runs low, at which point water is abruptly if temporarily unavailable. The septic tank is old and finicky and you must be careful what you ask of it to absorb. To pamper both, the water pump is set on low, so that the washing machine takes nearly an hour to fill. The dryer takes about the length of the Iraq war to dry a load of towels. The water is hard, without softening agents, which leaves mineral deposits on dishes, hair, and occasionally clothes.
There is no AC.
The microwave runs at 700 watts, and if you use it in conjunction with anything else, you will blow electrical circuits.
The sinks and toilets, built to an older building standard, are too low for comfort.
Now, none of this is exactly Third World poverty. That I get impatient with taking all day to do three loads of laundry (we had weekend guests) or with having my shower abruptly interrupted while my hair is soapy, hardly qualifies me as deprived. What it does do is underline how the bar raises for all of us. I grew up in this house, and as a teenager accepted all this as normal. Now, accustomed to greater efficiency in household amenities, it seems irksome. As good a definition of "spoiled" as any other.