If you’re following this blog—and isn’t it required reading somewhere?—you’re familiar with the Refrigerator Incident. Specifically, the mini refrigerator, the one that conked out on me that I had to replace, resulting in a few hours of back-breaking effort getting a new one in and out of my car, and out of its box, only to discover that the inside shelves would only accommodate enough food for three days if you’re two inches tall.
So it was back to the store with the new fridge to trade in for something human-size. The only glitch? Getting it back into my car.
But first, I had to get it back into the box.
I scooted the refrigerator onto the bottom cube of cardboard, no problem. The rest of the box fitted over the top with ease. The problem was connecting the two sections.
If I had been thinking clearly, I would have duct-taped the top and bottom together around the side. Instead, I decided to proceed as if they were attached, by sliding the whole shebang down my hallway, over the lip of the door, and across the uneven pavement into the garage. In the process, the refrigerator slid off the bottom. I pushed it back on, squashing the box. It slid off. I pushed it back on, and so on until the moment of truth arrived:
How the heck was I going to get this monstrosity into the back sear of my car in one piece?
It was then I noticed a warning on the top of the box:
Do not attempt to move this by yourself. Get help. You could damage your back, or worse.
I wondered about that. What’s worse than damaging my spine? A hernia? Could I lose some fingers? Take out a knee? I decided to ignore the warning and push the refrigerator top first into the back seat of my Corolla. And there it remained until I figured out how to get help.
My landlady rents out a room in her house to a young man who works at Google and spends all his free time behind closed blinds, playing video games in his man-cave. For all I knew, he could have been an imaginary tenant, except that every weekday morning his BMW is gone from the driveway when, supposedly, he goes to his job, which involves sitting behind the wheel of a driverless car for eight hours.
I decided to ask him for help when he returned home. Although I had doubts about his muscular abilities.
Still, he was my best shot. So I waited. And waited. Occasionally, I went out to my car and tried pushing the refrigerator in by myself.
Finally, I heard his car door. I dashed outside. I spied him in his J Crew outfit, trying to disappear through the front door.
“Hey! You! Can you give me some help?” (Okay, I didn’t shout Hey You, I used his real name, which I won’t utter because he probably doesn’t want anyone to know who he is.)
To make a long story less long, we got that sucker into my car. I drove back to Target from whence the refrigerator came, found an employee to offload it, and got my money back. I had maybe 18 hours to get my food out of my landlady’s refrigerator before she returned home from Reno with shopping bags full of groceries.
I drove to Home Depot at a brisk pace.
I had never been to Home Depot. I parked in the second row of cars near the front of the store, found the refrigerator display, looked inside the various models, decided on a Magic Chef—the only model they had—paid for it, and asked for help loading it into my car. The clerk sent me an elderly man.
Off I went to pull my car up to the entrance.
I walked down the second row of cars.
I walked down the first row of cars.
I walked down the third and fourth and back again, and up and down and back and forth, pointing my key fob in every direction while pushing the alarm button and all I heard was the elderly man yelling “Come on!” I retraced my steps from where I had pulled into the parking lot and still, no silver Toyota Corolla. Correction. Several silver Toyota Corollas, but none of them mine.
I pulled out my cell phone, called Dave, and told him someone had stolen my car. And I couldn’t remember the license plate number.
Then I spotted it.
In the second row, right where I’d parked it.
Sheepishly, I drove up to the elderly man who was now sitting on my refrigerator.
“Thought you lost your car?” he said. “I’ll bet you know where your husband is.” He and his elderly buddy shoved the fridge into the back seat and went off chuckling.
It took two men to get the thing into the car. Granted, they were old men, but still. Two.
At home, I scouted around for help. The BMW sat in the driveway. I went in the house and hollered down the hallway, “Hey! You! Can you help me again?”
I heard some rustling. “Give me thirty minutes,” he said.
An hour later, I called Dave. “If you happen to be out riding your bike today, can you swing by and help me?” Over six miles out of his way, but the guy likes his exercise, so I figured I was doing him a favor.
“Yeah, sure,” he said.
And then my landlady returned home.
Wait! What? Oh, jeez.
I ran out to warn her. Something in my face, in my repetitive, “I’m so sorry,” must have triggered sympathy in her. She brushed my apologies aside.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said.
I pointed to the humungous box in my car. She offered to help get it out. We shoved that refrigerator upright onto a make-shift dolly that she dug up, and rolled it into my cottage. I waited for Dave to arrive to unpack it.
The sun was going down when he finally rolled up, sweaty from the ride. He took off his helmet, and muscled his way through the door. He pulled the strapping tapes off without snipping them—a wise move, in hindsight—took off the box and maneuvered the fridge into its cozy space. We both stood back in admiration.
“I like it,” he said.
We checked the inside.
And then I noticed: the upper corner was smashed. The hinge didn’t sit properly. The seal wasn’t plumb. The damn thing was damaged!
I groaned. I might have cried a little. Dave put it back in the box, pulled the strapping tapes over the top, and carried the refrigerator out to my car. He shoved it in the back seat and peddled away on his bicycle, muttering loudly about people who don’t help.
Google guy stepped outside. “Do you still need help?” he asked.
I gave him a beady look.
The next morning, my landlady offered to follow me to Home Depot in her SUV. I exchanged the damaged fridge for a new fridge. But first, I had the Home Depot guy take it out of its box so I could examine it.
It passed muster.
He loaded it into my landlady’s SUV. At home, we dollied it into my cottage. I set it up, and four hours later, turned it on.
A nice quiet hum.
By evening, I loaded my food into it.
The next morning, when I opened the door to get my oat milk, I noticed the seal in the upper right corner of the refrigerator was peeling away. The containers inside had condensation. The new loaf of bread had a big moldy spot. WHAT THE HELL! I drove to True Value, bought a refrigerator thermometer, and hung it on the bottom shelf. Thirty minutes later, the thermometer registered the temperature in the “danger zone.”
I threw away my food.
Called the refrigerator manufacturer.
I’m now waiting for a service technician to pay a visit.
I wonder if he’ll be as incompetent as the guy who came to demolish the pool with a shovel.