Failing at Adulthood: My Adventures with The Messianic Fridge.

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Once upon a time, I bought a house. This was probably a mistake, because I am in no way equipped for such great responsibility. [I mean, I don’t even have great power, so why should I have great responsibility? I’m basically powerless here; someone else needs to be responsible.]

The house came with all the major appliances: a dishwasher, a lovely flat-top stove, a washer and dryer, a garbage disposal, and a fridge.

The washer and dryer were probably the oldest of the bunch. It decided to die in January, which was not at all fun. I replaced it with one from the Sears scratch-and-dent warehouse…which died during the startup run, and had to be replaced with another, better one. High-efficiency, no funny pillar in the middle of the drum. Very nice. Almost worth the delivery guy being all judgemental about how I obviously messed with the settings [after it sat not doing anything for over an hour, which is absolutely not normal operation, even during a startup cycle].

The dishwasher isn’t exactly awesome, but I’m not sure how much of that is the dishwasher, how much of that is my shitty rinsing, and how much of that is the chemistry switch of dish soap. It could also have something to do with the hardness of our water [which is, apparently, just this side of ‘diamond’].

Then there’s the fridge….

So the fridge was never precisely ideal. One day, I tried to turn on the water for the water-and-ice dispenser, and it started raining in the basement. So: no water, no ice. I’m still not sure why that happened, but fine, whatever.

Recently, it started pulling this weird little stunt where it would freeze things in the fridge, but let things in the freezer thaw. At first, I thought someone was fucking with the dials in the back. Not deliberately [although that was proposed at one point], but, like, inadvertently. By moving shit around.

But it would keep doing it, no matter how carefully I marked out where things were supposed to be set. And I’d have to crank them up higher and higher just to keep things frozen.

I had a thermometer for each side of the thing, just to keep track of how things were.

I would sometimes hear a funny noise from it, too. A sort of squealing noise. Very upsetting.

So, I kinda knew that it was going bad. And I kinda knew that repairing it wouldn’t be worth the cost.

On the morning of June 3rd, I opened the freezer to discover that the thermometer was way too high.

I’d been up all night, because insomnia and I had to help proofread Gremlin’s new book, so why not suffer and get something done. But no. No sleep for me. I had to go shopping. I had to find a way to get the chest freezer up and operational to save what was in the freezer—because it wasn’t just my food in there. And I had to get a new fridge.

Not awesome.

So: WalMart for cleaning supplies because the chest freezer’s outlet died a few years ago, and it was still very smelly. Then, HomeDepot, for a new fridge.

But first, in my weird panic-haze, I decided to knock on the roommate’s door. Because, obviously? I needed to let him know that the fridge died. There was nothing he could do about it, but, for some reason, I felt like I had to let him know.

So I woke him up. And told him that the freezer died, and we were on our way to get a new one to have it delivered, and then make sure the chest freezer was running properly and not-stinky. To save his food. Because food was important, especially food you’ve already spent money on when you’re busy looking for another job and running low on savings.

Then, WalMart, which is unimportant to the story. Except to mention this: as we got into the car, Gremlin said, “You know what will be funny? If we get home and the fridge is fine.” The important part is Home Depot, which we hit on the way back, because making a left turn onto that easy-to-miss-street-no-goddamnit-not-the-E-470-entrance with the sun right there is awful.

…and we browse fridges while waiting for an employee to show up and be all employeeish at us. Perhaps selling us on one feature over another, or helping us in other ways.

There was a dizzying array of fridges, with many, many features. I browsed in confusion. Why so many that all do the same thing? Why so many different arrangements? We’ve got the dead standard top-freezer-bottom-fridge, which was the cheapest, but I knew I didn’t want that. Because that wasn’t what we currently had, and it would be very hard to keep things segregated like we need to.

There was side-by-side-with-freezer-drawer, which just makes no sense, and would not work in our kitchen, anyway.

Our kitchen is an education in poor design. It’s approximately the size and shape of a car. With a really high ceiling. Not a boxcar. A car.

Well, maybe an SUV. One of those fairly large ones. Or a truck. But still, it’s small and longer than it is wide. And the fridge is right across from the dishwasher. It’s a seriously flawed design.

So a drawer on a fridge that slides out would leave you no room to actually, y’know, be there in front of it to pull it out. Also, segregation issues again. How would the Athiel-food be restricted to the Athiel-Food-Counter, while my clearly superior Master Race Food sprawled wherever it damned well pleases like the shit it is?

Also also, THOSE fridges were, like, three grand. And I do not have that kind of cash.

I knew exactly two things: I knew I wanted to replace the fridge with one just like the one I already had. Because I know that’ll fit. And that it’ll have shelves everywhere.

Exactly like it, except with, y’know, proper functioning. Including the in-door water and ice dispenser. Because holy shit, I really want one of those that works.

Luxury feature, I know, but I wanted it. And one more luxury feature. The other thing I wanted.

Digital temperature controls. On the door. So I don’t have to open the door and try to interpret the goddamn dial on a thermometer as it slowly creeps up.

An employee finally appears. I’m not sure if he actually works in appliances, but, since he appears at the opposite end of the appliance aisle, I assume that he does. And I pounce on him.


“Oh. Do you know what kind you want?” And then he starts speaking in this foreign language I do not understand. Something about ‘french door’ and ‘counter depth’ and, listen, I really didn’t understand a thing he was saying.

“Uh. I measured my old fridge. And it looked kinda like these over here. And I think that’s what I want.”

We walk around. I eventually explain that I want the temperature controls on the door, and then, I spot it.

A beautiful stainless steel fridge, with the water/ice/door thing. All the features I want. And for a great price.

But wait….

“Is it magnetic? I mean, obviously it’s not or all our electronic devices would be wiped out because it’d be a large and powerful magnet. I mean: do magnets stick to it?”

Employee does not know. Employee excuses himself for a moment, and disappears down the aisle.

Employee reappears with a magnet in a package, and tries to stick it to the fridge.

It does not stick.

He tries to stick it to another.

It does not stick.

He repeats the process on several stainless steel fridges, with the same result.

Then, he tries it on a standard finish fridge.

It does not stick.

Wait. What?

That’s not right at all. A standard finish fridge that isn’t magnet-friendly? That never happens. Unless maybe the fridge is haunted.

I do not suggest that the fridge may be haunted. Instead, I helpfully suggest that, maybe, trying to stick it to something as the packaging would hang on a hook is getting in the way, given the space between the packaging and the fridge caused by the shape of the packaging.

Mr. Employee flips it around, and presto! Fuckin’ magnet! Works!

So we perform the test again. Some of the stainless fridges still refuse, which, again, is unlikely to be due to ghost infestation and is probably just because stainless fridges hate magnets and won’t even allow them in the friendzone.

The glorious cheap stainless fridge that I’m rapidly becoming attached to? Lovingly accepts the magnet!

And it’s smudge proof, so that’s certainly nifty. And look at all those glorious shelves. I think one of them was even a sort of transformer shelf that could become a whole or a half shelf on demand.

Yes! Let’s do this! Let’s get this fridge! Please, deliver it to me soonest!

Soonest is July. You may recognise that as ‘still next month’.

As this was all happening on June 3rd? Yeah, not awesome. How could I save the food if I didn’t get the fridge this month?


The fridge and I immediately break up, and I start speed-dating new fridges.

The next one to catch my eye, flaunting another low pricetag [but not as low as the other one] and all the door controls I desire happens to be the see-not-haunted one that we tested the magnet on.

It’s shiny and black. Not stainless.

Well, I can certainly deal with black. I can definitely adjust my desires from ‘weird clinical stainless kitchen’ to ‘dark, brooding, goth kitchen’.

But I’ve been burned before. My last fling with a fridge ended oh-so-terribly when it refused to have a close delivery date, or even be in stock. Let’s go back to the computer and see when this one can show up.


The immediately that week Thursday.

Great! Let’s get married, fridge!

Or, y’know, just cohabitate. Because, honestly, I have been burned before. And I may never trust again.

I make the easy-yet-painful purchase, set up the delivery date, and we’re off to home, to begin the process of ‘saving the food’. Because, well, I’ve got no plans.

Gremlin checks the fridge when we get home, because his solution to ‘broken fridge’ is to stand there with it open staring at it, even though I kept yelling at him about it because goddamnit you’re letting the COLD out.

“Guess what.”

It was working again.

No. Oh fuck no. Did I just panic over a ridiculous fridge-quirk that I didn’t understand? Did it do this all the time and I never noticed? Was it a feature of the fridge? Food poisoning Russian roulette?


The next few days are spent clearing a path for the new fridge to be delivered, making sure there was enough space. Well, after I got the chest freezer cleaned out. I used a whole bunch of vinegar, baking soda, and this stuff I bought to clean up oil spills. And a shop vac.

Then, when the smell wasn’t completely gone [just augmented with vinegar], I hung stockings full of plain charcoal and put pie tins of cheap-shit coffee in there. Which, amazingly, worked. There is currently zero evidence of smell.

I did put down some cheap shelf liners, just to separate the food from the bottom of the freezer, just in case I didn’t kill absolutely everything with my multi-pronged sterilization attempt. But it was working.

I also mentioned on Facebook that I really wished I knew people locally, because people I know might have coolers, so I wouldn’t have to buy one. Because coolers are stunningly not cheap, and, after Zombi and the fridge, I was stunningly broke.

I do have friends. And they do have coolers. And I even have secondary friends. Friends I inadvertently made through friends. And they would’ve been totally willing to help me by loaning me coolers if they didn’t live in Michigan or Canada or Arkansas or wherever they live.

I even have a slightly-local friend who offered, sort of. She uses coolers when she makes shopping trips to WalMart, which is hours away from her. But the gas I’d use to get to her would defeat the purpose.

I eventually found a nice, large Styrofoam cooler in the sports/fishing section of WalMart for only eight dollars. I figured it was good enough. It would hold ice without leaking, and it would keep things cool. And, if it was damaged, I wouldn’t care.

The call about the delivery window comes. I cancel my appointment with my psychiatrist, because of conflicts. And then, the day arrives. The day of the fridge.

Shortly before the beginning of the delivery window, we make sure that there’s a clear path from the street to the door, and begin transferring things from the fridge to the cooler.

The fridge, of course, has been working perfectly fine all this time. But I do not trust this miracle fridge resurrection. Miracle resurrections do not last long before the resurrected being fucks off to nowhere for the next several thousand years.

The delivery men arrive, and prepare to haul the old fridge out, checking for space and all that important shit.

Old fridge goes away, and the new fridge comes in.

Now, I paid for the water hookup kit along with everything else, when I ordered the fridge.

This is where ‘weird, unexpected shit’ starts to happen. And where I actually manage to handle myself like a relatively competent individual.

“We can’t hook up your water line. We’re not allowed to touch the old copper lines,” says the lead delivery guy, who is much more polite and reasonable than the delivery guy who delivered my washing machine.

“Oh. Is that what I have? I didn’t know. But I paid for it.”

“We’ll let them know to refund that charge.”

“So, you can’t do anything with it. Does that mean that you can look the other way or something while I hop on back there before you push the fridge back, and connect it myself? Or is there a big compatibility problem that I’m going to have to rectify first?”

“No compatibility issues. See that end? It connects to this thing right here. Go on back there and have a look.”

So I climb behind the fridge and have a look. Indeed, they do look to be the same size and the right orientation. No weird compatibility issues.

The delivery man then hands me two different wrenches and says, “Here, use this one to hold the one end while you use the other one to twist it.”

And that’s how my water got hooked up.

I had to borrow the wrench again to turn on the water and verify that the leak was not in the line itself. Since there’s no spreading wetness downstairs that I’m aware of, I think the line is still perfectly intact.

The second weird thing: even though the fridges were roughly the same height, the new one would not fit under the cabinet that sat over the original fridge. So they couldn’t push the fridge back all the way.

Also, they had to go, so they couldn’t really explain things beyond ‘houses settle’ and ‘cabinets are held up by screws’.

Huh. Cabinets are held up by screws. But they’re screws that are way out of my reach. And rather out of Gremlin’s reach, too.

Plan A was Gremlin deciding to climb up there and try to get at them. This was not a sound plan, as he is already very tall, and the ceiling is not that high. So, plan B.

Plan B is me climbing up there, sitting on top of the fridge, and unscrewing the cabinet.

Then unscrewing it some more, because I missed a screw.

Then unscrewing it a fifth time, because goddamnit, there are screws connecting it to the cabinet next to it [but not to the wall, which I found very odd and slightly unsafe].

With that done, we slid the fridge all the way back, and I began obsessively checking my glorious in-the-door temperature controls, waiting for it to finally reach ‘food-safe’ temperatures.

Whatever those were.

Also, I started reading the manual rather obsessively. What do these buttons do? How do I make it all work? When will I have ice?

It turns out the answers are ‘displays/controls the temperature, alerts you regarding the water filter, locks the controls, and switches between water, crushed, and cube ice’. Also, a few instances of ‘hold for three seconds’.

And ‘You will have ice sometime after it reaches freezing, and then you must dump the first few batches of ice, because of manufacturing residues that you should not ingest’.

‘Also, you should run about a gallon of water through the water dispenser for many of the same reasons, and also probably something to do with the filter.’

I can do that.

I can also take pictures of the panel.

It's displaying the actual temperature.  With one press of a 'button'. Also, this is where water and ice come from.

It’s displaying the actual temperature. With one press of a ‘button’. Also, this is where water and ice come from.

This is the temperature setting, which requires a press and hold.  But it's much less fiddly than those damned dials.

This is the temperature setting, which requires a press and hold. But it’s much less fiddly than those damned dials.

Pictures where I will be reflected, apparently. At least I’m wearing clothes.

So far, it’s been working beautifully. It makes ice, it dispenses water, and it keeps things appropriately cold. Appropriately cold.

And it doesn’t complain when I go out there and press a button to check the temperature out of paranoia.

Gremlin’s probably going to start complaining at some point. He’ll also probably start complaining about the noise the ice dispenser makes when I use it to put ice in my water bottle.

…but I’m saving the water bottle for another post.

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