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  1. The Mini Refrigerator that Turned into a Giant Headache: Part 2

    July 2, 2017 by Diane

    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 reveal 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 my food is hogging your refrigerator” 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, and rolled it into my cottage. I waited for Dave to arrive to unpack it.

    The sun was setting 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 stood back in admiration.

    “I like it,” he said.

    We checked the inside.

    “Me too.”

    And then I noticed: the upper corner was smashed. The hinge didn’t sit properly. The seal wasn’t plumb. The stupid thing was damaged!

    I groaned. I may 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.

    …to be continued.

  2. The Mini Refrigerator that Turned into a Giant Headache: Part 1

    June 25, 2017 by Diane

    My mini refrigerator died. It had survived thirteen years, which in refrigerator years is, like, fifty, but after this last heat wave, or my five-millionth defrosting job, it went to the happy junk yard in the sky.

    I always time my defrosting duties for when my landlady is out of town, so I can store all my perishables in her full-bodied refrigerator. She was in Reno until Saturday. My mini fridge died on Friday. I had to get a new mini fridge pronto before my landlady came home with a Costco-sized load of groceries. That left me twenty-four hours to get my food out of her refrigerator. So on a day I normally work my second job because my first job doesn’t pay all the bills, I went hunting for a new refrigerator that wasn’t in the budget.

    I scoured the internet for brands, and read reviews. Armed with a list of possible candidates, I got in my car.

    First, I headed to Costco. I walked the entire store and found zero mini fridges. I also found zero food demonstrators, so I had zero sustenance for my epic journey through Costco.

    Next up: Walmart. I loathe Walmart only slightly less than I loathe IKEA, mainly because the people who work in Walmart seem profoundly unhappy, and none of them speak my native language, the Queen’s English. I traipsed hither and yon looking for mini refrigerators, and finally spied the empty shelves where once they stood.

    I looked around for a helper.

    “Excuse me,” I said to a young man wearing a blue Walmart smock. “Do you have any mini refrigerators in stock?”



    “Si. Here.” He directed me to the empty shelves and we stood side by side gazing at them.

    “Are there any in back-stock?” I wondered aloud.



    I drove across the street to Target.

    I spotted a young woman wearing the Target colors: a red top and khaki pants, and asked where I might find the mini fridges.

    “The kitchen section, if we’ve got any,” she said.

    I walked five miles looking for refrigerators that didn’t exist. First, to the kitchen section, where I found shelf labels, but no actual mini fridges. I hunted for a helper. There are no helpers in Target. There are shoppers wearing red tops and khaki pants who have no idea what’s in back-stock, but no Target employees walking purposefully, or even sauntering, down the aisles. I know this, because I walked up and down every aisle until I was at the front of the store again, asking one of the cashiers for help in the kitchen section. She pointed me to a guy with a walkie-talkie who promised to help, and then promptly disappeared. I asked another cashier who pointed me to guest services, where walkie-talkie-guy was chit-chatting with an employee. “I’m on it,” he said when he noticed me, and promptly disappeared. I asked another…I’ll cut to the chase. Somebody finally found a mini refrigerator, I paid for it, and a beefy fellow wrestled it into the back seat of my Corolla.

    I drove home.

    Dare I tell you what happened next?

    Remember, I was under deadline. My landlady was packing to come home. She would undoubtedly stock up on food before arriving. I had less than 24 hours to get my new fridge into my cottage, out of the box, allow four hours for it to stand upright before plugging it in because that’s what the directions say, clean it, turn it on, and get it to the proper safe food temperature which takes, oh, twelve hours.

    I decided to get that refrigerator out of my car by myself.

    Granted, this was a mini version, and half my height, but it was twice my weight, or what felt like twice my weight after pushing and pulling and shoving and angling and using forceps to get the dang thing out without breaking my car door. This, I imagined, is what it feels like to give birth. Without the mess.

    I dragged it over uneven pavement to my back door, heaved it the doorstep, and rocked it down the hall. I clipped the packing straps in two, and started cutting the sides of the box with an Exacto knife before realizing I could lift the box off its base, wrangle the fridge off the styrofoam, and push it into position.


    I hunkered down and opened the small door.

    The photo on the outside of the box showed a variety of food filling the shelves, one item being a jar of Mayonnaise. I should have realized…the jar was Barbie-doll size. Upon closer inspection of said photo, the Mayonnaise jar was no bigger than the Yoplait yogurt crammed next to it.

    This refrigerator had midget shelves.

    The freezer? Huge!

    Obviously, this mini fridge was designed for someone who lived in a man-cave subsisting on frozen dinners and a single stalk of celery.

    I’m a vegan.

    I need a crisper that’s bigger than a wallet.

    I needed to get that refrigerator back in its box, down the hallway, over the uneven pavement, into my car, and returned to Target in exchange for another refrigerator at some other store which, hopefully, had something in stock.

    The clock was ticking.

    I got to work.

    …to be continued.

  3. When Honesty Goes Awry

    June 11, 2017 by Diane

    At work one day, while cutting through the room where my boss was interviewing a bookkeeper, I heard the question we’re asked at every job interview:

    “What’s your weakness?”

    Does anyone answer that question honestly?

    “Well, I’m always late for work, and I’m a slob. I’m a hoarder, too, so my desk will be a mess. Oh, and I like to read books when I should be working. And text friends. And surf the ‘net. And take personal calls. And naps. That’s about it.”

    The bookkeeper answered:

    “I have a hard time working for a place where I don’t feel appreciated.”

    Good answer! I thought, and then, wait, wanting to be appreciated is a weakness? Isn’t that a right?

    How about this answer:

    “I like to be paid on time.”

    It got me to thinking: in what other situations do we avoid honesty? What if we just said it like it is?

    “Do you take this man to be your lawful married husband, for better or for worse—”

    “Can you define ‘worse’?”

    Or how about this classic:

    “Does this dress make me look fat?”

    “Uh, yeah. Pretty much.”

    Okay, so blunt honesty isn’t particularly nice.

    “What’s my weakness? I’m honest to a fault. That tie you’re wearing makes you look like a doofus. When do I start?”

    We’re told to be honest, but along with that expectation comes the understanding that if you can’t be nice, then lie. Or deflect.

    “That dress? What a lovely shade! It brings out the blue in your eyes.”

    Maybe there’s a middle ground for honesty. Something that’s not too honest,

    “I have low self-esteem, because I’m one of twelve children and my parents ignored me.”

    …or not honest enough,

    “My weakness? I’d rather not answer that question.”

    …but just right,

    “That dress isn’t quite as flattering on you as the green one.”

    “My weakness? Not having a prepared answer for that question.”

    Our degree of honesty depends on our relationships. We’re blunt with spouses and family members, but not with co-workers or strangers. Why? Because we know our loved ones have signed on “for better or for worse,” but a stranger might want nothing more to do with us.

    So we lie to be liked.

    Or to be president.

    We just don’t call them lies.

    We call them alternative facts. Because we can’t even be honest about lying.

    I appreciate honesty. It builds trust. On the other hand, if honesty reveals a psychotic personality, how much trust can I muster?

    There’s vulnerability in being honest. We risk losing respect when we admit, “I don’t know, I’m wrong, I made a mistake.” But when we lie to ourselves, we’ve lost something far more valuable.

    Better to speak our truth,

    “I really don’t like working with numbers. But I need this job, and don’t believe there’s something else out there, or something I can get, so I’m willing to settle. That’s my weakness.”

    …just not in the job interview. At home, in front of the mirror, looking ourself dead in the eyes.